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The Surprising Entrepreneurial Lesson I Learned After My 5 Year Old Cut My Hair Against My Will

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When my 5-year-old daughter and I got hit with a virus, I moved my clients and we kept her home from camp. With canceled appointments and a mini-me to entertain, I decided to turn our now-free afternoon into a “pretend” trip to the beach. I packed the essentials — towels, books, snacks and drinks for our excursion, which was really a trip to our backyard. My daughter packed books, markers, paper, detangler, brushes, hair clips, ponytail holders and whatever else she could fit into her backpack. Our “pretend” beach day quickly transitioned into a full-blown salon extravaganza.

Now, before I go any further, I have to say this kiddo has an uncanny knack for hair styling. Her colorful and innovative creations with accessories would make any fashionista proud. One time, she managed to arrange her hair clips in such a way that it looked like she was wearing a headband. Only upon closer inspection, could you see her clever assortment of tiny clips. Over the past year, doing her hair, and my own, has become one of her most cherished creative outlets.

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So there we were, enjoying the fresh air, reading books and eating ice pops, when she wanted to play salon and style my hair. She used several hair ties to complete my look and took a picture of her masterpiece on my phone. I was in the middle of telling her how hard I could see she worked on my ponytail, and complimenting her photography skills, when out of nowhere, I heard snip.

My heart skipped a beat, and I slowly turned around to face the aftermath.

“Love, did you just cut mommy’s hair?

I saw my hair in her hand and watched it fall off the scissors as she said, “yes.”

I could have interrogated her, demanding an explanation for this unexpected haircut, but I thought about the prompts I’ve learned to use from the child psychologists I follow on Instagram. Instead of asking why she did what she did, I simply asked “What were you thinking when you cut mommy’s hair?” in a genuinely curious tone.

Without missing a beat she said, “I was thinking your hair would look better one inch shorter!” Talk about a phenomenal answer.

I had to hold back my laughter because while I appreciated her artistic flair and her opinions about my hair length, we needed to have a meaningful conversation about the incident and why we couldn’t repeat it. One day when she’s older, I’ll gladly share my own bang-cutting escapades from when I was her age, but I left out those details, so she doesn’t go after her baby sister’s curls anytime soon.

We packed up our things and went back into the house. As I reflected on the incident, this unexpected curveball got me thinking about the way we handle mistakes in our professional lives.

How often do we find ourselves exclaiming, “Why did you do that?” after someone has made a mistake? What if he swapped that with, “What were you thinking?”

No, this isn’t an invitation to engage in a berating monologue. It’s an invitation to reflect. Just as I’ve learned from the child psychologists I follow on Instagram (I’m looking at you Dr. Becky), the reflective sense of the question, “What were you thinking?” can provide valuable insights into someone’s intentions and decision-making processes.

In my role as a media trainer, I coach from this place often. When I review my clients’ media clips before our first session, I don’t focus on the “why” behind their choices and shame them when we meet. Instead, I urge them to share what they were thinking at the time of their interview, which allows me to understand what they were trying to achieve. This information helps me provide guidance and support, enabling them to make better choices in the future. It’s that simple shift from harsh interrogation to inquisitive that opens up a world of possibilities.

So, the next time someone in your world makes a mistake, resist the temptation to blurt out a frustrated “Why did you do that?” Instead, approach the situation with genuine curiosity and see what revelations unfold.

Every mishap holds the potential for growth and improvement. The “snips” and the unexpected turns are often invitations for us to grow. So the next time you’re in this situation, keep in mind that curiosity can pave the way to our next big breakthrough — and always remember, every “haircut” has a story to tell.

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