Learning From Children: The Power of Belief and Non-Linear Thinking
Kids Are Incredibly Resourceful Little Beings
I was doing my regular beach workout on the pull-up bars yesterday when a little girl, probably no older than 8, came over and said I’m “really strong” and that she wanted to try some bar exercises as well, so I decided I’d help this little girl out.
(By the way, her mother was close by and watching if you’re wondering about her safety walking up to a stranger.)
The thing that fascinates me about children is their lack of conditioning and ignorance to “the rules of life.” The low bar, which is about 5 feet high was damaged, so she was unable to use it. The high bar is about 8-9 feet in the air and she decided she’d tackle this behemoth. She shimmied up one pole then grabbed onto the cross-beam to get up on it. All the while I was thinking how much simpler it might have been for me to just lift her up onto the bar.
She mentioned she’s really good at doing “bar flips” and proceeded to demonstrate how it’s done. In mid-demo, her mother called out to her and told her to get down because it was too high, too dangerous, and that she can’t do what I can do. But clearly this little girl thought otherwise and she was about to prove it at all costs.
It was at this point that it fully hit me. I realized how it all happens. We stop believing in ourselves and our capability to achieve “the impossible.” I realized how we stop dreaming because it’s too hard or too dangerous; how we find ways to convince ourselves there’s too much at stake and that we have something to lose; and most unfortunately, how we allow othersto convince us we can’t do the things we attempt because they can’t do it themselves. It is a gradual but damning process.
I forgot how painfully lazy we have became, such that we don’t even try to think for ourselves. We simply want to be told what to do.
Balancing Nature and Nurture
Don’t get me wrong, I can understand any parent’s concern for their child’s safety, and I may be speaking slightly out of turn as I have none of my own, but I think there’s a need to exercise extreme caution with the words we use with children because they will live by those words. Words have an impact well beyond the moment in which they are spoken.
I’m no psychologist but I do believe there’s a way to protect children from harm while allowing them to be the natural explorers and dreamers they are.
I follow the school of thought that industrialist mentalities won’t survive in the new economy. Entrepreneurs are regularly lauded for being the type of people who approach life with a non-traditional perspective, but I think the high percentage go through the same struggle. They have the inner child beaten out of them and conform to linear thinking; however, later in life, they awaken and rediscover the potential that has been subdued. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences this rediscovery of self and purpose.
I don’t think the shift in thinking will happen in school, at least not for a long time, so it will need to begin at home and in our social circles.
Don't Grow Up
My hope is that as you read this you remember what it means to truly believe in yourself and that you don’t always seek out the beaten path. Rediscover the curiosity that leads you to create your own. Also, allow others to have the latitude to figure things out their own way and the results will often be quite amazing.
Let’s learn from children how to be children again.