“Dad, can I make the pancakes for Griffith and Sofia today? I know how to do it all by myself.”
When my oldest boy, Santino, was two, I started a “Pancake Friday” tradition. I would make pancakes every Friday to help him remember that Dad didn’t have to work the next day and the weekend was here. It stuck and over the last six years it’s become a lot more than a symbol for our family.
Once I started the tradition, I would use our Friday ritual to give my kids the courage to try new things. We’ve dropped countless eggs learning to crack them and I’ve vacuumed more flour than some bakeries. Imagine watching a three-year-old measure out a ¾ cup of milk from a half gallon. What do you think happens when she pours past the ¾ cup line then looks up to say “uh oh” while still pouring? I always downplay the mess by telling her “they’ll make more”.
Leadership is about encouraging growth, not giving permission
Leaders in a healthy business culture are givers even when they may not receive anything in return. And while they may be asked permission to do this or that, they know the real opportunity is to give their team permission to get messy and fail. By facing new challenges head-on and without judgement, it becomes easier to pull together as a team to get things done.
Recently, our pancake tradition had to take an unexpected break. Santino had a serious allergic reaction to several of the pancake ingredients. We’re a team so we agreed to take a break while we figured out a workaround to his allergy. It’s been really hard on him and we all missed our weekly tradition.
On this particular morning, Santino's question had a different impact on me. You see, he couldn’t eat the pancakes - but he still wanted to make them for his little brother and sister. Although we had just figured out a mix he could eat and he was starting to enjoy them, it wasn’t the same for him. As you can imagine, it tugged on my heart strings pretty hard.
“Heck yeah you can!” We high-fived and he took off downstairs for his solo run. I joined him 10 minutes later. The pancake batter looked great and he had already cleaned up his mess (bonus points!) I high-fived him again and he started grilling the imperfect pancake circles. More beaming from Mom and Dad.
And what was the best part? His brother and sister were even more excited for his pancakes than mine! He was beaming because he had something to give – they were inspired. Just like big brother – they want to do bigger and better things too and will model his courage.
Culture equals family. Family equals support, inspiration, and courage.
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