Always an opportunity, always a lesson

Last month I talked about how I continue to prioritize my role as a parent to my children as I run for office. Whether that is creating a “Canvass with Kids” event to involve children in knocking on doors, or bringing my oldest to a community meeting, there are many ways we have found to keep our kids involved in this process. These principles can be applied to any meaningful work though. Whether it’s volunteering with a nonprofit, leading the neighborhood organization or organizing the church potluck, all bring opportunities to bring our kids along.

Now, running for Toledo City Council while managing everyday “Kitchen Table” issues can leave very little time for almost anything else. But this month I wanted to take a few minutes to think ahead. As every parent knows, thinking about the future is an integral part of parenting well. You have to assess opportunities, values and develop a plan to get your family where you need to go. This also applies to the lessons we want to teach our children.

So, what will I tell my children about this campaign in November if I win? What if I lose? Either outcome is an opportunity, each one contains a lesson to be taught.

If I win… it seems pretty easy, right? We will celebrate, talk about how great it feels to win and take in the moment of victory. But what other opportunities may exist? Here are three lessons to share with our children that I believe apply to any successful endeavor, running for office or not.

First, we celebrate the team. None of us make it alone. We need so many people along the way. And while a campaign obviously relies on many visible people, helping our children identify and acknowledge those involved in any of our success along the way is an important lesson to learn.

Second, we reflect on the process. It’s so easy to move on to the next thing, get swept up in excitement and forget what you just went through. Slowing down and looking back with gratitude is important when it comes to celebrating success with our children.

Then, it is time to prepare for the challenge. Great, we won. Now we get to do the work. Winning is rarely the end. Often winning is just the beginning. A threshold to walk through on our way to another challenge.

However, what if I lose? What do I say then? Was it all a waste? Why should I ever try again? Is it worth the heartbreak? These questions are natural and I think even more common from the honest mouths of children. Here are 3 crucial lessons we can teach our children after we experience loss.

First, we must ask: did we follow our heart? Did we listen to that still, small voice within ourselves? When we follow this voice, we rarely go wrong. Win, lose or draw, being true to yourself is such an important lesson to give to our children.

Second, think of all of the good. Rarely do we experience a total loss. The important conversations we had, the relationships we formed, the amount of people we worked with along the way… it all matters! It adds up, and it changes us. The outcome might not have been what we wanted but good work took place, and that is always a win.

And lastly, while it may sound simple, there are no losses, only opportunities to learn. Because at the end of the day, what we all want for ourselves and certainly what we want for our kids is progress. We want to get better.

So, win or lose… I’m looking forward to these conversations with my kids.

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