🍣 Are you a teacher or a librarian?
Useful for planners, parents, perhaps more.
Our daughter is fast-and-furiously approaching 1.5 years of age, and it’s quite insane that (1) it’s been that long, and (2) i don’t quite remember life without her now. Perhaps it’s the mild exhaustion and constant logistics brain that needs to happen when you’re a parent but also working (of course, that's also true for parents who don’t work, as the logistics there mostly focus around the family life), but it’s true.
I ain’t complaining. I love being a dad. I’ve been learning so much. Every day feels a bit magical as she discovers something new for the first time. One question that keeps coming to mind is: what type of parent am i? What type of parent do i want to be? And is there a broader lesson from my ‘parenting philosophy’ that applies to something like work, perhaps even life?
Let’s find out.
📚 Are you a classroom teacher or a librarian?
I’ve been a fan of Austin Kleon’s and Ryan Holiday’s work for quite some time. And now it carries even more meaning as they consistently share their learnings as dads. Well, this conversation captures a lot of good stuff, even if you don’t have kids.
In it, one key thing caught my attention that i simply had to write down. It’s when Austin (yeah we totally go on a first name basis) asked something to the effect of:
“When you parent your kids, are you more like a classroom teacher or a librarian?”
By which he meant, are you more of a command-and-control, “do this because i said so” type of parent, or more of a “i see you’re interested in this thing, may i interest you in even more things adjacent to that thing” type of parent. Are you parenting or guiding someone by discipline, or by enablement? And sure, you need a bit of both, but i feel like the starting point for me is enablement, tempered with discipline. Whereas others might prefer to lead with discipline, tempered with enablement.
This isn’t a judgement on which mode is more correct, as there is no such thing. You do what works for you, and what works for your kids – or indeed the people who manage. Everyone’s different. But it’s an interesting point of reflection for us to understand what we default to, and what the resulting effect is on those around us. So what’s a possibly useful lesson for non-parents among you? I can think of four questions that matter:
What does your managing style tell you about your own history?
What types of effects does it create in the people being managed by you?
If you’re more of a teacher style, are you limiting your team’s potential to flourish?
If you’re more of a librarian style, are you potentially leaving them overloaded?
Like i said – no right answer. Just answers that feel ok for you, and make you feel like time spent with your team, and their time with you, is indeed worth the investment.
👋 After the break:
Why we’re all delusional, plus a funky-ass meme because why not.
But this section is for paid subscribers only. So if you want to join 10 other generous souls (don’t judge, i’m new at this), get bonus shizzle and support my work and words, please consider upgrading.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Salmon Theory to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.