Lessons Learned

A year into Motherhood isn’t very long, but the experience is so educating you can hardly find another to compare it with. Here’s to Lessons Learned!

Next Sunday signals my little one’s first time around the Sun. It totally shocks me when I pause to reminisce all that has happened in the last 365 days. “A lot of water under the bridge” as Sam would put it. The fundamental things do, indeed, apply As Time Goes By, and we get to witness how, little by little, we get to grow into our newly acquired roles: him as an explorative toddler, and me and dad as his supportive gang.

A year may, or may not count as a long time in someone’s live. After all, time is a relative rather than an absolute measurement, and the farther you are from sea level the faster you age. To us, this last year flew like a rocket, and I hardly felt any aging! Not because we live by the sea (although I wish!) but because so much has happened altogether, that our perception of elapsed time was deeply affected. It was only yesterday when I was holding my tiny human in my arms for the first time, and now he is already cruising around the house all by himself, chasing the cat and giggling with dad’s beard.

Our little one has met many development milestones, and (as all kids) is bound to keep it up. Sleeping, crawling, cruising, eating solids, teething, babbling and socially interacting with his environment form a commendable list. So much already, in so little time. His brain is at an expansive continuum, with neurons making trillions of new connections all over the place! (You can read more about how children’s brain grows here) All those new stuff: no wonder he is exhausted by the end of each day!

But baby J is hardly the only one outgrowing his onesies. Mom and Dad have gone through a growing spree of their own. Remember those Growth Spurts? Well, here’s point zero, some time later. The moment to take a pause, sit down (and try not to fall asleep) and review your Lessons Learned as we would call them in Project Management.

Photo: Min An (Pexels)

What are Lessons Learned you may ask? Raw and Sikes have got you covered:

Lessons Learned are the documented information that reflects both the positive and negative experiences of a Project. They represent the Organization’s commitment to Project Management excellence and the Project Manager’s opportunity to learn from the actual experiences of others.

The words used in that definition are not random. They are handpicked to best describe the meaning:

  • Documented: You actually need to write stuff down. It doesn’t have to be a fancy digital medium, or a complex database. Even an old school scrapbook will do. But those stuff need to be kept down, saved in a known place, and be readily available. I know you may now feel that your brain is capable of storing every crucial baby-related detail there is but, trust me when I say that, in time, information slips. And we let go. Eventually, we forget. Every Lesson Learned that goes undocumented is not just an empty line in your fact sheet. It’s no less than a missed opportunity to keep your memories from life with the kids vivid!
  • Information: You can practice for NaNoWriMo as much as you like, but Lessons Learned are not meant to become your memoir. You keep down the highlights. The most important stuff. Bearing in mind that you write for your future self or some other caregiver to refer to, stick to the facts: what happened, how you dealt with it, what’s the lesson at hand. Of course, you get to decide what constitutes an important learning experience but, in Lessons Learned, we focus more on the practical and less on the reflective side of our kids’ lives.
  • Positive & Negative Experiences: I tend to focus more on the negative side of things. Although my friend Simon is an advocate of optimism and how it gets to shape things around you for the better, I can’t help but seek growth through hardships. That allergic reaction to egg that, if occurs, medication A must be administered within the hour. That cute puzzle floor that can turn into a walking hazard should water be spilled. But, lately, I deliberately go looking for the good stuff as well. How he likes almond-butter more than peanut-butter butter in his yoghurt. How he loves it when the sun is down and he is out in the balcony smiling at colorful cars passing by. How he frantically giggles when he manages to caress our cat’s tail. Writing down all dimensions is the realistic (and holistic!) way forward!
  • Commitment: Capturing Lessons Learned is not a one-time thing. As long as you are learning (and don’t kid yourself: you always do!) they have a place in your home. So don’t just do it for a couple of months, or for as long as the scrapbook lasts. It not a fling. It’s a behavior. A habit. You are to only committing to passing down information. You are acknowledging life long learning, for you, the spouse and the family. Which leads to the last (but not least) point. The formation of a unique…
  • Opportunity: To grow. To learn from past mistakes. To realize the dynamics of positive experiences. To write your own Book of Knowledge, with and for the family. To share a common space. To come together. To form an unparalleled bond between yourself, your spouse, your kid(s) and the community that constitutes your family’s support system.

Any Project Manager worth their fancy title would explain how capturing Lessons Learned is more of a mindset, rather than a process. You need a particular kind of person with the clarity of thought as well as the discipline to maintain such a record.

I am inclined to argue that Moms have a talent for picking up those learning moments, but I must admit have witnessed some potential in Dads around me as well. From where I stand though -but with no science to back me up on this- Moms seem better at capturing what went wrong and finding ways around them, while Dads seem to have an inclination towards the positive stuff. But I could be wrong about this. After all, I’m describing no more than my perceived parenting style from Greek Millennial Parents residing in Athens, Greece.

Socioeconomic factors (a fancy name for bias) play a big part in both perceiving and shaping Parenting styles. The following strip is, no doubt, a comical representation of dominant perceived parenting styles, destined for the US, but some apply to Greece as well.

Mom vs Dad Parenting Styles (Personal Creations)

On a more serious note though, back in 1983, Maccoby and Martin made a study on Parents, and found out that there are 4 Parenting styles (indulgent, authoritarian, authoritative, and uninvolved) with 16 possible combinations. I looked into their work expecting to find some styles to be more prevalent than others, and I did. But nothing on gender-related differentiations. (In case you are wondering, the three combinations that were overrepresented among the various types of family parenting styles: were (a) an authoritative mother and father, (b) an indulgent mother and father, and (c) an uninvolved/uninvolved mother and father).

But those were Baby Boomers that Maccoby and Martin were studying, and I’m a Millennial, living in an era when complimentary (rather than converging) parenting styles are quite common. We do know that Millennials parent differently, so there could still be more substance to the matter.

Baumrind has suggested that it may be common in many families for the mother to be more nurturing than controlling, whereas the father is the opposite: more controlling than nurturing. I wonder how that affects their disposition towards learning from their experiences. I have a feeling it correlates, but all I could find is that, at the end of any given parenting day, Dads are happier than Moms.

So, dear Momma, where do you stand on your own family’s Lessons Learned? Have you started to keep down the facts and resolutions of your kids’ upbringing yet, as our fellow Project Managers tend to do? If not, go ahead and grab that notebook, lass! It’s never too late to see how knowledge is all around and, by capturing it, you support your entire family while it grows. And if you were already keeping a Lessons Learned registry of your own but didn’t know it was a business thing, kudos to you: you may truly possess more Project Management skills than you may have initially thought you do!

As for you my dear Recruiter or Hiring Manager, what do you look for in a candidate when you have an opening for a position that requires Project Management skills? How crucial is the mentality of keeping Lessons Learned to you and to the role? What if that Mom on your list already has it, and you didn’t know it was there because you didn’t think to look at the unexpected place? Ask the right questions and, no doubt you will be rewarded with no less than an excellent fit for the role at hand.

Growing along with your Lessons Learned? You got this!

Featured Photo: Pixabay (Pexels)

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