My younger daughter is in seventh grade. This is probably the first time she’s had to study, and it is quite the eye-opening experience. I think that it’s also the first time she’s had to really advocate for herself in school. Learning to advocate for yourself is really a tough skill to learn, but if anyone should have that skill, this kid should. After all, she’s the one who will argue with customers who tell her no during cookie season. If you tell her on a diet, she’ll tell you to buy anyway, and put the cookies in the freezer, for when you go off your diet. It’s amazing how successful she is.
She is incredibly successful at selling lots and lots of Girl Scout Cookies. I’d guess that for most people, selling over 3000 boxes in a year is a lot of cookies. This is a kid who will argue with a rock, and win. She considers arguing about things to be a sport. Rules are suggestions only, meant to be tested.
And yet, she is struggling. She has run into a couple of situations at school where she needs to advocate for herself, and ask to do make-up work from an absence. So far, she said she asked, and the teacher said, “no”, so she quit arguing, and rolled over and cried. Now, it’s time for the rubber to hit the road so to speak. She is learning when to just bite her tongue and say nothing – such as during the invasion drill at school yesterday when some kid was acting up next to her, and she waved at him to be quiet, and got into trouble. But she also needs to learn when to use that Agent Weaselburger Style on her teacher, and negotiate what she wants, how she wants. I’m trying to teach her to be persistent about her grades and assignments, because at the end of the day, they are hers to live with.
I spend a lot of time doing this with people who have worked for me as well. When to push, when not to push, when to use skills, when to be a leader, when to hide. It takes a lot of skill to learn, but ultimately is worth it. If the knowledge I pass along helps just one other person, it will have been put to great use.
What about you? Do you apply your skills? Whether those skills are leadership, negotiation, or advocacy, do you apply them?