Community Talks! Vol. 1, ep. 28
Before anything else, I want to encourage all of you to not take this article too seriously. I was very inspired by last week’s post about what cats teach you about love (if you have yet to read that post I encourage you to do so after reading this). The post made me think about the aspects of my life that have defined me and I must say that one of those things is me being the oldest sibling.
I have the pleasure of being the oldest of three sisters who are all close in age. So not only did my parents have three kids to manage, but they also had to deal with the sister dynamic and the mandatory wardrobe wars that follow. Being an adult now, I’ve left the wardrobe wars behind, and I am now navigating new environments and social settings. I can’t help but finding it funny how some of my personal traits or actions could be directly linked to my role as the oldest sister. I would however, like to clarify that this article is solely based on my own experience and somewhat prejudice and of course these traits or learnings are not limited to us oldest siblings but it’s fun to view it from that perspective, so bear with me. Thus, without further ado, please see below three things I’ve learned as the oldest child that I apply to at work.
Being the oldest automatically means you are in charge – jokingly I would say it is your birth right. This has entailed during my childhood strategizing and organizing family events. Making sure the younger ones are dressed, have set their alarms, and making sure that everyone is aligned on the goal—whatever that may be. Although this has not involved any traditional project management frameworks, it has given me a foundation of structure and accountability.
When you are three siblings there inevitably will be conflict. It might be a group fight, a disagreement between two, or the classic children versus parents. As the oldest, I found that my role was to find the common denominator. Being the closest in age to my parents, I served as the communicator or middleman. Defining the objective of the parties, understanding, and translating the perspectives. All of which I find quite useful if a conflict would occur in any other aspect of my life today.
Growing up, I heard the phrase: “Oh Ragnhild you’re amazing at delegating”, and it has often been said in a sarcastic tone of voice. It Implies that it may be a way of avoiding work or tasks. I can agree that in some instances having someone else do a task can be seen as something negative or unnecessary. For example, delegating the task of fetching the salt when I could have very easily got it. However, the art of delegating, I believe, is about identifying peoples’ strengths and making use of those to achieve the best results. Which is crucial in a work setting. An example of this growing up would be having my youngest sister ask if we could have McDonalds for dinner because she had the advantage of being young and way cuter than me.
So, I hope you all enjoyed reading this and most importantly I hope my fellow “eldest children” recognize themselves in some way. I would love to hear your thoughts on the sibling dynamics effect on you later in life. If we have any youngest or middle children who want to chime in, I would love to hear that as well!
P.S. I can’t write a whole article about me and my sisters without sharing a picture of us with you all. You can find a very young me to the right.
Ha ha ha ha love it!
Should all managers be older siblings? :-)1
@... - great question! I do believe we may be subjected to reprimands if we starrt screening people for that :D Also I would say that there are many great leadership qualities that can be seen in youngest and middle children as well :D0
Nice one Ranghild! :) Interesting to hear your point of view. I am a middle child and I would say that our dynamic differs a lot from the above. I often find myself in the role of the eldest sibling actually.1
Hi Ragnhild Jonasdottir!
Thanks for sharing this insightful post with us. From my experience as the youngest of three siblings (I have two older brothers), I recognize that the Conflict resolution skill has been well developed by my older brother. About the project management one, I must say, I'm the project manager in my family. So, that's the only discrepancy I see there with my personal experience.
On the other hand, as the youngest one or just in general if you have siblings, you will learn how to work as a team. Whether it was to reach out the candies jar from the highest place or to convince your parents to buy you the new PlayStation 1, you must work as a team with your siblings.
Also, another skill I developed a lot was creativity and problem-solving, basically, you become an autodidact. As the youngest, you have to find ways to create your own path, as sometimes your older siblings will not teach you some skills you want or simply you just want to do something they don't. For example, I learned how to bike by myself, and first than my two brothers 🚲.
Now, I'm wondering what the middle children would say 😄1
Krisztina Kursinszki - Thank you! And very interesting. Like I said theres no "research" done behind this article so not surprised that you identify with the skills I described. However, there are traits generally attributed to different types of siblings. For example I would like to claim that middle children are often incredible mediators which would probably also mean they are good at solving conflicts :D
Mariana Cañavera H. - You are so right about the team work! I have a friend whos an only child and they said it took them longer to learn for one the concept of sharing as well as team work. Since they up until school mainly dealt with themselves.
Also I do believe you are on to something with the creativity and problemsolving in the youngest children. I would say my youngest sister definetly has that quality - she also has the pleasure of learning from her older sisters mistakes, which is an advantage (maybe unfair) :D1
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