I am blessed to have two very wonderful young boys who constantly challenge my sense of self. They question why I am doing something else when they want me to play or to tell me to join in when they are in the back seat of the car singing at the top of their lungs. They get me to join in and have a free sense of fun. After a day doing business, it is a welcome relief.
My boys live each day with this free sense of fun. I see how open they are when meeting new people and their belief that what they want to say is the most important thing in the world and, let me tell you, they’re going to share it with you. I think we all could learn tremendous sales skills from five year olds, but that is a story for another day.
A recent example of this was when my five year old graduated pre-school. They all wore caps and gowns and got diplomas. We were all very proud. What I marveled at was how open he was to demonstrate how he felt. He was quick to show his excitement, his joy for singing or to show off a little more when he got laughs or attention. I love the way he is free to allow himself to be silly or just dance with no concern.
Much of the journey we travel as adults is peeling back the layers of “act this way” or “you can’t do that” or “what would someone think of you” to return to a sense of freedom. We as adults are the ones who feel that we cannot be silly or have too much fun or else we will lose control of a situation.
For kids, it’s different. Kids never lose control because they just move onto the next item with full commitment. They don’t look back and spend time worrying if anyone did not like what they did; they just get on with it
I was reminded of how far I have come on my journey was when I was working on performance reviews for my company. I have the privilege of working with some very talented young people and I was struck by how perfect they wanted each review to be. The forms were filled out with what they thought the right answer was and I saw how nervous many of them were sitting in front of me even though I work very hard at breaking down the barrier of “the boss,” which I am not naive to think it does not exist.
I saw myself in them and was reminded how I once did the exact same thing. I wanted to please people. I didn’t want to rock the boat. I aimed to give the correct answers and prove my value. But through many years of experiences, I have come to realize that I was most valuable to my employer and others when I was most like myself. I was most valuable when I was comfortable to share my opinion, passions and the things I liked to do.
I came to realize that it is more important to be true to myself than to adjust myself to fit in. I have added this into future management training because this is seldom discussed. My advice to my team was to bring your whole self to work each day. I reminded them that we hired them not so much for the skills they possess but because we felt they fit our company as a person. The sense of self is something we need to embrace and cherish, not stuff away in a box until later.
We all could use some of this freedom each day. We spend so much time wishing as an adult to have the freedom of a child, but how many of us allow ourselves to be silly when the time calls for it with the abandon of a child and the freedom to move on to the next thing and never look back.
Next time something strikes you as funny, laugh. Next time a song comes on you love, sing it full force and yes, even show your dance moves once in awhile. Commit, move on and have some fun.