Do you ever think about why you act a certain way? Where our behaviors, patterns, or processes are derived from? During a recent conversation with one of my sisters, Stephanie, we uncovered a challenge both of us have been running into in the professional world… and traced it back to a piece of our childhood.

We grew up in an exciting and active household. There were four children (1 boy and 3 girls), my parents, and our puppy, Thor. During the summer and on the weekends, we would wake up to a chore list waiting for my siblings and me. Our parents would have carefully marked one of our names next to each chore, but everything on the list had to be completed before we were able to go outside and play.

These weren’t chores that we received any type of payment or allowance for- they were considered our responsibility as a member of the family and our way of contributing to the household. Most of the time it would be things like “sweep the porch,” “dust the downstairs,” “empty the dishwasher,” “mow the lawn,” etc. Sometimes, my sister would get lucky and my parents would put “read 3 chapters” on her list (you see, unlike me, she despised reading and always cringed when she saw this). But- regardless of what was going on in the neighborhood- a lemonade stand, swimming in the creek, a basketball game, or a sledding trail- it was our responsibility to complete the list before partaking in those activities. So, our goal was to always get our chores out of the way as fast as possible. On days when everyone was in a good mood, we would blast music and all four of us would help with everyone’s lists, completing everything exponentially faster.  And then we were free to socialize, visit with friends, read, climb trees, paint, or use our imagination for one of the million games we used to create.

But this chore list taught us something significant… something that has carried into the start of our adult lives. It taught us to start with our work. It taught us that we should get to our task list first.

Now that the four of us are in the “real world” with real jobs, we are starting to see these lessons translate into our work. My sister, Steph, and I have very similar personality styles- we both are very social, but feel the most comfortable when we get to work, focus on our tasks, and build relationships while working on teams. Thinking back to our childhood chore lists, it makes sense- we have been rewarded our whole lives for accomplishing our chores (and on weekdays, our homework), first. Our parents would be proud, the house and yard would be beautiful, and we would always start off our days being productive.

Not everyone has the “Aaronson Work Schedule” we were brought up with and Steph and I are starting to learn that people express and live out their personal work ethic in different and unique ways. The challenge is for us to recognize those different styles and respectfully articulate what we need to be successful while working to adapt to help others be successful as well.

From experience, I can guarantee it will be a journey filled with moments of panic and directness, “I do not have time to talk right now,” or poor attempts at ignoring people (when I leave my headphones in and keep my hands on my keyboard as you continue to chat), but the good news is we are aware of this development opportunity and we are working on it every day!

Are there things in your life that you feel are the correct, or possibly the only way to do something? Can you trace that back to the way you were brought up or an experience you had and possibly move forward with a more open mind?


Danielle Aaronson

Danielle Aaronson

Danielle’s mission is to inspire leaders to make intentional choices that move them to positive action. She speaks at conferences, management summits, and leadership programs as well as facilitates efforts with executives and senior leaders at organizations seeking to influence their culture. Her mantra, “be the change you wish to see in the world” has allowed her to strive every day to be the best she can be and help others recognize the potential they have to make a positive difference. @deaaronson

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