Keys to success with Daniel Tiger

A number of people have asked me over the last few years “You seem to be doing something right [in your career].  How do you do it?” Or (my favorite) “How do we ‘Sarah’ XXX ?” (For the record you know you’ve made it when people start to use your name as a verb.  Like Google.)

Now I’m good at self-promotion, have a good dose of emotional intelligence, know how to laugh at myself, generally give a sh*t about what I’m trying to do, and sure, have an engineering degree and strong verbal and quantitative test scores (thanks parents), but that’s not it.  I’ve met a lot of people that are better at me than all of these things.  In some cases – a hell of a lot better. But they haven’t made it quite as far quite as fast.

So here’s my two cents on success.  Literally two things.

1. Learn to learn. And learn to love to learn.

When I was visiting my family in Pennsylvania for the holidays last year, I spent a lot of time hanging out with my awesome 3 year old niece. She puts me to shame for assertiveness, and that’s an accomplishment at any age.

One of her favorite shows is Daniel Tiger on PBS.  My favorite episode was this one.  Just watch the theme song, which pretty much sums up the single skill required for success at anything.

“If something is hard to do, try it a little bit at a time.”

Just watch it again and really listen.

“If something is hard to do, try it a little bit at a time.”

Now Daniel Tiger works on themes to help small kids develop interpersonal skills, problem solving skills, and self-care sensibilities.  I’m sure every adult I know could use a brush up on some of all of these skills.  But let’s just focus on the learning one.

Most people give up on things because they’re are hard.  Life’s not fair. If only we were all naturally talented at all the things we need to be successful!  While that’d be great, I’m going to guess the odds of that happening for anyone is a complete statistical impossibility.  The only way you are going to succeed is if you try. You try and try and you really give a f*ck.  You do the stuff that makes you uncomfortable and you do it if for no other reason than to learn something and prove you can do it.

Learning for the sake of learning is a great thing.  I can’t think of a single thing I’ve spent time learning and then said “Well, that was a waste of time.”  The more you learn, the more you become confident in your ability to learn.

So how do you learn to learn and learn to love to learn? By doing things a little bit at a time – in small chunks. If you can’t run a mile, start by running for 30 seconds of it and walk the rest.  It sucks and it is hard but you can do that little bit to start with.  And you’ll get better.  And guess what – the same things happens with math. And difficult conversations with difficult people. And public speaking. And asking for a raise or a promotion. Or trying to think about a problem from someone else’s point of view (reference my views on politics in the last post).

You’re never going to succeed by moaning about how hard things are. They won’t get easier. Best to start – a little bit at a time. And you will be surprised at how much you’re able to make happen.

2. Don’t be an asshole.  

I don’t need to explain this one.  If you’re an asshole, you’re just making your own life harder (and suckier).  I don’t have a Daniel Tiger video for this specifically but I’ll try my best to track one down.

Edit: Here’s a Daniel Tiger for not being an asshole. Enjoy!

Ok that’s my two cents. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Keys to success with Daniel Tiger

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