Last night, I was putting my two-year-old daughter Luna to sleep in the way I always do – by dancing with her to her latest favorite song on repeat. It’s the best part of my day. Luna rests her head on my shoulders as we twirl and twirl… until finally, her eyelids close.
As we danced, and Luna drifted to the edge of sleep, I felt a cough coming on. Worried that even the slightest sound might rouse her, I tried to suppress the cough; I tried to mute it with my lips. But it pushed through.
Just as I’d feared, Luna popped her head up. She looked into my eyes. Then she twisted her body, reached her hand around my shoulder, and started pounding on my back – just as I’d done to her many times when she had difficulty swallowing a piece of food.
She continued pounding until my coughing stopped. Then she slithered back into her original comfortable position. She looked up at me, smiled, and laid her head right back down on my shoulder. A few minutes later she was fast asleep.
I held Luna for longer than usual last night before laying her on her bed. I felt a swell of emotions – joy, pride, gratitude – for having experienced Luna’s little act of heroism. And I thought about how important a lesson that moment was for me.
Our children – as well as our colleagues, friends, and even our enemies – are much bigger than the boxes we create for them.
Sometimes – as parents, as leaders, as human beings – we get so invested in the important roles we play that we mistake those roles for the kind of person we’re being as we move through our lives. This has real impact:
In holding on so tightly to our clearly defined roles, we can make it hard for people to step outside our expectations and help in ways we wouldn’t have expected. But our children – as well as our colleagues, friends, and even our enemies – are much bigger than the boxes we create for them.
Luna helped me see that last night.
One of the reasons I love stories so much is that they help us step outside our roles and remember our humanity. They help us notice, for instance, that while our children are our children, they can also be our heroes.
—Daniel Jacobs, Avanoo CEO & Co-founder
Daniel Jacobs is a husband, father, inventor, and storyteller. His work has been featured on Fortune, Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Apple News, HuffPost, and most major news publications in the United States. He is CEO and co-founder of Avanoo, which uses the power of stories to drive connection, belonging, and performance in the workplace.
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