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15 Important Things You Learn As The Elder Sibling

15 Important Things You Learn As The Elder Sibling

I am both the oldest sibling and the oldest of 15+ cousins on my father’s side of the family. As a younger child, I felt being the oldest carried a special burden that I did not particularly enjoy, but as I have grown older and taken a retrospective look at my childhood, I realize that there are so many lessons that I learned (and continue to learn) as an elder sibling. These lessons can definitely be learned other ways in life, but the experience is a special and unique one when these lessons are viewed through the eyes of an elder sibling.

1. You learn how to share (although perhaps not willingly).

As an elder sibling or oldest child, at the beginning of your life, you enjoy all of the privileges and benefits of having everything to yourself! But somewhere along the line that all changes. All of the things you called “yours” now belong to you and another tiny little human. The same number of Christmas presents sit under the tree, but now only half of them belong to you. It is among the more difficult lessons to learn as a young child, and most times it is a lesson learned under duress, but in the end, you learn how to accept sharing with someone else.

2. You learn that life is not always fair.

Soon after learning how (or being forced to) share, there is usually an exclamation of “Life’s not fair!!” My parents quickly realized that particular battle was a losing one, especially as I accumulated a great amount of evidence to prove my point. So they quickly changed their tune, and began to teach me that fair is not always equal, and that my younger brother shared the same bedtime simply because it was easier to manage.

3. You learn the importance of setting an example.

As the elder sibling, you are an example.

Your younger sibling will copy everything you do, even on a subconscious level. From the way they speak, to the books they read, to even the way they write the letter “t”—all of can be traced back to you. This is very important as it means that, for better or for worse, you have and will continue to have a tremendous impact on them.

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Charis ackee

    My brother and I picking and inspecting ackee in Jamaica.

    4. You learn how to share blame (correctly).

    I can distinctly remember being being grounded many times as a child for my mischievous plots. And though I didn’t enjoy the fruits of my labor, I understood why I was being punished. The worst punishments, however, were the ones that came as a result of my younger brother doing something wrong, followed by my parents saying, “You should have been there,” or “You should look out for your brother,” or any similar sayings.

    I quickly learned to give credit when things went right, and that I should be the first to step forward when things went wrong. This doesn’t mean my brother and I never played the blame game though.

    5. You learn to make friends and be inclusive.

    I have a cousin who is three months younger than me. For the first four or five years of our lives, we were the best of friends, just the two of us. Somewhere in the middle of that time period, my younger brother was born, and I figured my parents would keep him company, because I didn’t have time, and I already had a friend. Sad, but true.

    But one day, my mother pulled me aside (probably literally, I can’t remember) and gave me a wise and simple admonition.

    That is your brother. He is your best friend, and will be there always, after we’re gone, before you get married, and before your other friends. Include him, because he will be there forever.

    And somehow it clicked! I learned how to include him in everything I did, and that skill transferred over to my interactions with others. As an elder sibling, you learn how to include your other siblings in your life (to a degree), and doing so with people outside of your family helps you make friends.

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    6. You learn how to be a leader.

    You are the first one into the dark, the one who the other siblings expect to come up with the plan, with the activities for the night. Eventually, you figure out that, as a leader, things do not always go according to plan, and you learn how to figure things out on the fly. You learn to delegate. You begin to practice the essential skills that any good leader must have.

    7. You practice teaching skills and ideas to someone else.

    As an elder sibling, you are an educational television show that your younger sibling watches from dawn till dusk. They learn how to tie their shoes, how to talk, how to write, and how to act, all in part by watching how you do these things. My parents, for example, took full advantage of teaching things once, and then I assisted in passing those lessons on to my brother. From how to do laundry, to folding clothes, to help with homework (that I had completed myself three years prior), and how to tie a tie. You also get the added bonus of getting better as you practice these things while teaching them!

    8. You learn how to cooperate and work as a team.

    This is one of the best parts of having a sibling. Once I got over including my brother in the things I did, I realized that he was the best teammate that I could have ever asked for. Our dynamic duo has caused more trouble than my mom initially planned for when she gave me the advice to make him my best friend, but it has also taught me the invaluable lesson of cooperation and teamwork. From missions to play video games in the middle of the night to networking and our chemistry and communication on the basketball court, I have learned so many lessons on what it takes to make a great teammate from my experience with my younger brother.

    9. You learn how to give advice and the power of influence (both good AND bad).

    Younger siblings are an open invitation, a scientific study in the area of influence. My influence played a part in sneaking out of the house, in “borrowing” the car, in several reckless golf cart races, and many other escapades.

    You also learn to listen and give advice. My brother can TALK. We would spend days apart at school and our nights would conclude with his dissertation of the day’s events. Usually I fell asleep before these filibusters ended, and he would end up talking us both to sleep. But before falling asleep, I would give him advice on how to handle situations he was facing. I learned how to give advice he would accept, and I learned how to deal with him not taking my advice.

    10. You learn how to take care of yourself (and others).

    For years, my mother was the resident nurse and chef. As soon as I was old enough, my mother tasked me with helping her in the kitchen. This advanced to preparing dinner for my brother and I, making salad, making breakfast, etc. And with that, her job was complete. She no longer had to make pancakes or wrap sprained ankles, unless she was feeling nostalgic. I could now take care of myself (enough to stay alive), and my brother came to me for assistance or sustenance, until he figured those things out for himself.

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    Feeding Charis2

      Feeding my brother. It started early!

      11. You learn how to manage frustration.

      Your younger sibling can at first seem like a horrible beta test, the iOS 3 to your iOS 6. I can remember being frustrated many times, because I was forced to include my brother in activities where I knew I would be frustrated with him. Given the task of raking leaves at Grandma’s house? I KNEW it would take longer and add more frustration when he would “get tired” and stop working.

      But in those moments, I learned how to manage my frustration, control my expectations, adjust my plan, and keep the big picture in mind. You continually learn that every frustration is not permanent, and some are not even worth the stress.

        That’s not only food on my face. That’s frustration.

        12. You learn how to be a silver-tongued politician.

        There were countless times when I was chosen (by my younger brother) to be the voice of reason that explained a situation to our parents, the lawyer to plead whatever our current case was, or the con man to get our parents to agree to something they had previously negated. This is important because it taught me the different ways to speak to people, and the results those different ways produced.

        13. You develop a good work ethic.

        Adults realize how much an older child can assist in the raising of a younger child. So, as a part of setting an example, the work ethic of an elder sibling is rarely allowed to slack. I was constantly told, “If you work hard, the others will follow.” And at first, I worked hard because I was told, or to set that good example, until it became a part of who I was.

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        After a while, I would work hard at a task until it was completed, not because anyone was watching, but because it had become practice. I don’t doubt this would have happened had I been an only child, but it helped having to set an example of a good work ethic.

        14. You learn the importance of letting someone learn from their mistakes.

        My brother and I did almost everything together until I got to high school. We were one person, named CJandCharis. Wherever I went, he went. I went away for my sophomore year, and when I came home, I realized that although we were similar, he was not just a younger version of myself. We were similar, yes, but he was developing into his own personality and making his own choices.

        So I had to learn, as I’m sure all elder siblings have, to give him space to grow. I could listen and give advice, but he had to live his life, successes and failures. Sometimes, that involved stepping back and allowing him to trip and fall (metaphorically and physically), so that he would have his own experiences and mistakes as evidence to learn from.

        15. You learn how to encourage someone else.

        If there were an “Elder Sibling Handbook,” one of the early chapters would be devoted to how to perfect the words “You can do it!” and other encouraging phrases are. You encourage your younger siblings as they take their first steps, as they learn their first words, when they struggle in school, as they practice for their role in the play, while you teach them how to play basketball, and in countless other areas. You can quickly become your sibling’s biggest supporter, even when they are not around.

        This list is long! But there are so may more things that you out there have learned in your own experience as an elder sibling, or perhaps from your elder sibling. Share those lessons and funny stories below!

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        CJ Goulding

        CJ Goulding is the Lead Organizer at Natural Leaders Network, building leaders and connections in and between humans.

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        Last Updated on October 15, 2019

        How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

        How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

        What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

        To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

        All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

        There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

        With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

        What follows is a list of thirteen of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these 13 tips are essential:

        1. Think Big

          From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

          “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

          There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

          Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

          Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

          Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
          Instead be ambitious.

          2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

            From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

            “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

            This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

            Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

            If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

            Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

            Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

            Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

            3. Learn How to Balance Life

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              From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

              “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

              All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

              If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

              However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

              If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

              In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

              To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

              4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

                From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

                5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                  From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                  “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                  This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                  It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                  If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                  Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                  6. Be a Person of Action

                    From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                    “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                    Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                    Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                    When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                    You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                    All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                    Applying this to you?

                    Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                    7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                      From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                      The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                      The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                      People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                      This is key to good leadership.

                      It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                      But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                      What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                      As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                      8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                        From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                        “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                        It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                        Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                        If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                        9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                          From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                          “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                          Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                          It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                          Keep dreaming!

                          10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                            From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                            “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                            Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                            Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                            If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                            However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                            11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                              From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                              “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                              It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                              When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                              Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                              If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                              This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                              12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                                From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                True success comes from work.

                                You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                  From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                  “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                  In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                  If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                  It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                  Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                  Final Thoughts

                                  What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                  Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                  More to Help You Succeed in Life

                                  Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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