Bode and Harley Love had a really great playdate the other day. They each had a friend or two over for a few hours on an early release day.
Now, we do have a lot of kids in our family, but the age spread is so wide that I will fully admit that I get a little anxious having 5 kids under the age of 6 in the house with only me to keep the peace…and, the irrationally neat and organized state that I prefer to keep our home in.
When there was about 15 minutes until they were all getting picked up, I pulled them all in for one of our regular “team meetings”: standing in front of me, eyes on me, and bodies frozen while I talk. It’s a little drill sergeant (that’s actually a really hard word to spell), but it works when you really gotta’ get attention.
I asked them all if they had fun, which they did.
I asked them if they all wanted to come back again for another playdate, which they did.
And, I asked them if they all wanted to have a little more time to play before they had to leave, which they did.
So, I told them that since they were all so good while they were with us, they were welcome to come back whenever they wanted to if they could make the house look exactly the way they did when they got there. I told them they had 3 more minutes to finish playing, then they would have 5 minutes to put the house back together. If they did all of that in that amount of time, they’d have about 7 more minutes to play before they had to leave.
Their little eyes were glued on me the entire time, I think because they were trying to process all of that math, and by the end of the talk they were basically in the track sprint ready position, gnawing on steel to get after it.
I spent the next 10 minutes shouting out time updates so they knew I was actually holding them to the schedule I had laid out, and so they had a sense of how much time they had left to get it done.
To my absolute shock, when I went around the house at the end of the 10 minutes, the house was back. It wasn’t Heather-proofed, but it was definitely better than I ever imagined they were even capable of.
I was so proud of them.
I don’t take that route all the time with people, but I think when you’re trying to run something efficiently it’s not a bad way to do it. Whether it’s getting kids to follow your lead at clean up time or getting your adult athletes to do what you need them to when you’re coaching a CrossFit class, people appreciate order and direction more than you think they might…especially, if it’s delivered the right way.
Not many people like the true drill sergeant that makes you feel like you’re doomed for failure and never doing a good enough job, but there’s always the friendly unicorn drill sergeant, too, that knows how to smile and get people excited to pay attention and work hard to accomplish a task and feel like you know what the plan is and how it’s going to roll out.
Your choice: mean drill sergeant…or, friendly unicorn drill sergeant?
The answer seems pretty obvious to me 😉