Who didn’t love kindergarten? The blocks, the milk, the naps. It was heaven on Earth, but at some point we all had to grow up and take on our dreaded responsibilities.
How did that happen?
Luckily, we have people like Ivan Reitman (father of the gifted Jason Reitman of “Juno ” and “Up in the Air ” fame) and Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger to remind us just how amazing that school year was.
“Kindergarten Cop,” in case you are one of the 12 people who never got sick and watched it on USA Network, is about a detective who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher to uncover a drug dealer. But here’s the kicker: The cop is Arnold and he’s macho and he hates kids!
Though this movie invariably makes me laugh, this post is more about what lessons stick with us from kindergarten and how to use them in our lives as bloggers.
I’m sure you are all familiar with Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” and though I will pull a little from his idea, I’ve come up with some of my own and encourage you to offer your ideas, as well.
1. Be nice: What a simple idea, right? Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best—Occam’s Razor, if you will. Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have a great book called “Trust Agents” about how to operate in this “human business” known as social media. A lot that goes into trusting someone is simply being able to like them, and the easiest way to get someone to like you is to be nice. Respond to comments, explain your reasoning, and learn to work within a community. It’s simple, but not a lot of things we learn in kindergarten are complex.
2. Don’t lie: In this age of constant transparency, it’s nearly impossible to get away with lying on a grand or even small scale. From my history in PR I’ve become a big advocate for transparency and think many problems could have been avoided if people had simply told the truth. How do you think it will help your image as a blogger if you include a blatant lie in a post and never acknowledge it? Not well.
3. Let others play: What better way to use a blogging community than by actually making it a “community”? Try to find ways to foster two-way communication, whether it be answering the emails and comments that come to you, inviting readers to post ideas, or creating avenues for readers to highlight themselves using your platform.
4. Don’t hit people: This one relates to No. 1, but I wanted to expand because I think this merits its own conversation. If you always play devil’s advocate, it might not be helping your causes (great post by Tim Sanders about that here), and if the only comments you leave on others’ blogs or ideas are negative, you are doing nothing but hindering creativity. Tomorrow, try agreeing with/expanding on every valid idea people bring to the table, and see what changes occur in your creative process.
5. Clean up your own messes: Another simple one, but one we often forget, it seems. No one is going to clean up after you. If you mess up, clean up and go on. Some of the best ideas have come from mistakes, and sometimes the best process for discovery is trial and error. Just get up and go.
6. Take a nap every afternoon: This one might seem strange to you, but one thing I tend to do is work so hard I tire myself out, and then even though I’m working, I’m unproductive. Learn to slow down at least once a day. Whether that be reading a non-work-related book (I’m reading “The Wind Through The Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel” by Stephen King), taking a walk outside, or literally taking a nap once a day. Learn to slow down and be quiet. Some friends of mine in Boston found a way to implement this into the work day in a way; check out their idea here.
7. Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone: A simple apology can go a long way in a blog and in life. Learn to say you’re sorry to people who deserve it.
Those are the things that kindergarten taught me about blogging. What other can you think of? Let’s work together to make a huge list that we can print out and hang in our offices and cubicles to remind us to keep things simple. Life’s not always as complicated as we make it out to be. As Arnold reminds us, sometimes “it’s not a tumah.”