At times the insight and perspective we seek in life can come from places that we least expect. As you read this weeks story, while these 'teachers' don't always seem to respond to my inspirational leadership; they have provided a 'gift' of renewed knowledge in true life leadership. As an old saying goes, "When the student is ready the teacher appears". I received a double dose.

Great Gifts Come in Small Packages
As time continues to pass as it inevitably must do, it never ceases to amaze me how life’s valuable lessons are more often than not learned.  Even given the inspirational nature of my career, I can still find myself being given a test before I’ve received the lesson plan.  As a student of personal development I gain inspiration from a vivid array of sources; the most compelling of which come straight from the global and life leaders that have walked before me. Now although I’m beginning to reach those higher and higher rungs of age ladder, I must admit that it’s rather humbling when I find myself seeking knowledge from those that I am walking ahead of.  Or to put it more bluntly: those who are younger than me.
While it is one of my steadfast beliefs that every single person can be learned from, or rather, every single person is a teacher, it took a couple of true youngsters to help me understand the value of insights that can be gained from those that have far fewer annual rings on their tree than I.
One Proud Grandpa
Recently I was walking with my sons through a parking lot. There was a fire truck nearby and the three of us quickly spotted a fireman. He was relaxing with a cigarette on the side of his big red vehicle and was considerably older than any fire fighter that I have ever seen. His steely eyes fixed their intense gaze on us as we walked past him, then he called out after us with a bellowing yet welcoming, “Hey, want to see a real fire truck?” 
My sons were of course very excited to see the rig up close, and to be perfectly honest, so was I. As we approached the fireman he extinguished his cigarette and removed his sunglasses. “This way fellas”, he said jovially. He watched in amazement as their little faces lit up while he showed them the cab and various pieces of equipment. The fireman then looked at me with an enormous grin and said, “You must be one proud grandpa!” 
His thoughtful compliment took me by such surprise that I was almost astonished. I came back with a measured reply. “Well you’re half right”, I said as politely as I could. I didn’t embark on the kid campaign until after the age of 45, and my boys are only two and four years old.
My Two Greatest Teachers
Now although I did get started a little late in the game, I am now abundantly aware that raising kids is indeed a younger man’s sport. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world. In addition to the wondrous joy that fatherhood brings to every facet of life; having kids has the added bonus of teaching you an incredible array of valuable lessons. Some of them are so beautiful that they change the way you look at everything, and others are ones you knew at one point in life but which responsibility and time chipped away at. 
I’ve spent my entire life seeking out the wisdom of others so that I could be a better person and inspire others to do the same, but hands down, it’s my two sons that have become my two greatest teachers.    
Though they have only been with me for a handful of years, I’m continually amazed at how much glorious knowledge they seem to inherently possess. The way they instantly take to new things and situations; the way they laugh and cry, and especially the way they live fully in any given moment. All kids have this unabashed thirst for almost everything they are exposed to. This is something most of us lose as we get older and more wrapped-up in the safe and sheltered worlds we build for ourselves. The more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s exactly what we need.
The Great Lessons
My children have changed my outlook and approach toward life in ways that I’m only now beginning to understand. Some of their teachings seem rather obvious; while others have such powerful meaning you realize that they are all that truly matter. What follows is a list of The Great Lessons:
Don’t wait till things are perfect – This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last few years. For starters, your life is never going to be perfect and if you’re not careful, it just may pass you by while you wait for it to be how you’ve always envisioned. Take hold of what you want right now, as soon as the opportunity presents itself, because you never know, right now may be your best chance.
Stop and appreciate all that surrounds you – Although life is constantly changing, having the ability to take in the beauty of any given moment will bestow upon you a tremendous amount of perspective. 
Laugh and dance for no particular reason – Trust me, you’ll be amazed at how good this will make you feel.
Play with other kids – Kids possess such a wonderful excitement about life which is incredibly infectious. You will see things in a new light right after doing so, I guarantee it.
Take naps – So many of us are sleep deprived in this country. Take a nap at midday or after you get home from work. You will wake-up feeling like a new person.
Tell the truth – I know this one can be hard for adults, but deep down most people would rather hear honesty than thoughtless platitudes.
Say what’s really on your mind – Again, this one may not be easy but over time you will see that people will respond to plain genuine speaking.
Look for Easter Eggs – This one is a no-brainer if you think about—they’re filled with candy after all. Some of them even have money.
Ask for what you want, not what you don’t want – I call this one The Santa Claus Clause. Going through life trying to please others can be very counterproductive. Take time for yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want.  
Read books – It saddens me a great deal that people don’t have as much time as they would like to read their favorite books. Not only does reading make you smarter, it exposes you to new worlds and broadens your imagination in ways few other things can.
Snuggle under blankets – Taking in life’s warm comfortable moments with a loved one makes for really beautiful memories. This should be done as often as possible.
Ride your bike – When you were a kid you did this all the time. Pick it up again. In addition to taking in the local scenery, the exercise will do you good.
Be kind to strangers – Most people avoid eye contact with strangers, let alone affording them any sort of kindness. Start off by saying “hi” to those you see when you’re out and about and see where that leads you.
Try new foods – We all have our favorite dishes, but sampling different flavors not only lights up your taste buds, but allows you to learn about other cultures.
Ask for help – It’s incredibly short-sighted (not to mention arrogant) to assume that you have all the answers. Asking for help is not only a sign of maturity, doing so allows you to get to know other people who have different life experiences than you.
Say your prayers – Believing in something higher than yourself allows you to connect more fully with life’s trials and tribulations.
Practice patience – This one is really tough, but understanding that the world is not at your beck and call will allow you to lead a far more enjoyable and fulfilling life.   
BE PRESENT – I saved the most important lesson for last because all the previous ones stem from simply being present. In order to appreciate all the beauty from life’s many lessons, you must be actively engaged in the moment, no matter how big or small. If you coast through life on autopilot you’re going to wake-up one day to find a big gaping hole inside yourself that you will never be able to fill. You can’t ever get time back, so use however much of it you’ve got as fully and truly as possible. In the end, regardless whether things worked out the way you wanted them to, you won’t have any regrets and you’ll be filled with a lifetime of soulful memories.     
Learning from Others – Especially Children
As you travel through the years of your life you should always try to learn as much as you can from others. Forget about money, social standing, or anything else that on the surface is desirable. You can often learn more from those most unfortunate in society than those who’ve succeeded. But no matter who you learn from in any given moment, always remember that every single one of us is a teacher. Gleaning knowledge from every person you meet allows you to gain a vast array of perspectives. When these powerful insights are united with the wondrous enthusiasm that children possess, your days will be filled with an infinitely more fulfilling set of life experiences.

Author's Bio: 

About James McPartland:

James McPartland (aka "Mac") is the Principal and Chief Inspiration Officer of the JMac Performance Group, a specialized management consulting firm focused on realizing the importance of the human potential in business. He is an entrepreneur, author, international speaker, and noted authority on leadership, team building, corporate wellness, and transformational change.

Mac focuses on helping successful leaders get even better by achieving positive lasting change in behavior (and results) for themselves, their people, and their teams. As a consultant and speaker, he has worked with senior executives in organizations from Fortune 500 corporations including The Dow Chemical Company, IBM, Allergan, Technogym, Les Mills International, Spinning and Total Gym, as well as non-profits such as the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Mac’s vast business experience includes:

• Expertise in strategic business modeling and business plan development, analysis and execution.
• Design and deployment of creative, effective and aggressive sales and marketing strategies
• Recognition of potential in business, people, and opportunities
• Strong communication skills in motivating and inspiring allegiance to company goals and core values
• Strategic recruitment of synergistic top executive and support staff talent
• Development of passionate corporate culture, commitment and productivity through credible leadership, incentive drivers and motivation training
• Proficient management analyzing and employing measurable key metrics to drive core objectives and outcomes
• Efficient execution of self-administered accountability systems motivated by incentives, recognition, and reward programs
• Track record of results. Built companies from start to $150mm in annual revenue, launched two additional companies in the health and nutrition space

Mac also actively participates in numerous events and organizations including the International Health and Racquet Sports Association, the American Heart Association, and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In addition he is currently active in U.S. Public Policy legislation that will positively impact the companies that provide wellness benefits.

He sits on the Board of two new health and wellness companies in California, Best Fit Data and Worthwell. Mac also speaks French, and is an active member for the World Presidents’ Organization.

James has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers including The Register and Times of Los Angeles, Club Business International and The Business Journal. He has also been a guest on network TV and numerous radio shows.
In 2008 “Mac” was recognized at The Mayo Clinic by the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports for his outstanding contribution to wellness. Additionally, his efforts were rewarded by the World President’s Organization with an award for leadership. After a year of preparation he led a group of 55 executives on a first of its kind business retreat to Vietnam.

James earned his Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina State University. An avid fitness enthusiast, he has completed 37 marathons and 8 Ironman Triathlon events. He resides in Coto De Caza, CA with wife Mara and sons Luke and Logan.

About The JMac Performance Group:

A ‘Human Performance Company’ dedicated to improving the health and profitability of a company by unlocking the potential of its employees. Business and people development consulting is cultivated through seminars, workshops, and executive retreats.

If you would like to receive The JMac Group monthly communications, please visit our website 'home' page: and click 'SUBMIT'.

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