Do you remember the wonder of make-believe, play and exploration you had as a child? Dirt and water become extravagant cakes and branches the sharpest swords. A rustle in the leaves caused by a critter was the lurking werewolf. If you have children or have spent any time with them, you know that we all enter this world curious. It’s the adults who can discourage us from embracing youthful wonder. At work we want everyone to be curious, to consider being in touch – not with childishness, but instead with a mature and professional child-like wonder, joy and inquisitiveness. You’ll see it when you walk around the office and notice personal touches to work areas or poetry on the wall in the break room.
The other day, I walked over to chat with a team member and was delighted to see that she had a blanket and toys sprawled out on the floor where another team member’s baby was cooing away and smiling. She was watching the little one while Mom came in from leave for a quick meeting. I smiled immediately and felt like warm sunlight was shining over my body. Imagine if we could feel like that, like we are being exposed to pure joy every day! Imagine if we could not take ourselves so seriously, but instead embrace youthful exuberance? I know that I am more creative, innovative and productive when I have recently laughed, giggled or been smiled at.
I like to imagine my 7-year-old self sitting in a meeting with me. Is the message simple? Are we interacting in a respectful, light-hearted and interesting way? Are we getting to it quickly or droning on just to hear ourselves speak? Are we making eye contact with others and smiling? Even when conversations are difficult ones, we can choose to be conscientious, considerate and to listen actively.
In the movie The Sixth Sense, the child Cole sees dead people and acts as though they were right there with him. He shows all the expected reactions and emotions someone would if they were actually in the room with something that scary. The sixth sense I am encouraging everyone to consider is that of his or her inquisitive, open and trusting child. How would you react if your 7-year-old self were watching and learning from you? Would you interrupt or be dismissive or would you and ask for clarification and make it clear that you understand the other person’s point of view? Would you whisper words of judgment about a co-worker in private or would you take a moment to appreciate their unique attributes and be in awe of how different you are from another and work to find areas of similarity.
When people are encouraged to invite their inner child and all her or his wonder and acceptance in the room, that room becomes one where magic happens and people solve problems and innovate with the beautiful blend of adult experience and childhood curiosity and trust.
– Becky Sharpe, President & CEO