Here it goes....
Step 1) Surround yourself with kids
Step 2) Act like a kid
Step 3) BE a kid
I know... very profound.
And as we say that, we may also reflect on the fact that most of us have forgotten how to do any of them. And if we have applied one or more of these steps recently, we've for sure forgotten to make it more than a fleeting instance and instead an actual part of our everyday life.
I recently had the honor of being invited to tour a growth and development center whose mission is to be a teen-led, teen-driven center focused on empowering the youth of today to become the impassioned, resilient leaders of tomorrow. Alive! http://www.alivenaperville.com/ is a teen center located in Naperville, IL that has been co-creating fun, exciting and highly effective programs with teens for over 3 years. After the tour, we sat down and had the opportunity to share ideas on how to improve the lives of teenagers in significant ways from all walks of life, and that's when the lessons really started coming.
We were able to come up with ten ways to empower kids, but what I left with was even more powerful - how surrounding ourselves with, acting like or BEing a kid - has a profound effect on our lives as adults - equal to or more than the impact of adults the kids they are there to serve.
The kids at this center have the opportunity to play. Not play with dolls or G.I. Joes (thought they could, if they wanted to), but play with robots, computer equipment, audio visual equipment, science lab stuff, music, art and so much more. And when they 'play' instead of 'work' with these (and other) tools, they are allowed to make mistakes, they are allowed to laugh, they are allowed to have fun with others - and they are allowed to be themselves, which is the key to the highest performance level they could ever achieve.
Simply put, when we 'play' instead of 'work', we are naturally happier, more fulfilled and as a result, our effectiveness is higher. You read that right - when we are Happy First, success simply happens. (For more on this way of life, check out a true story that was founded on this principle and written by a great friend and client: http://jimoberhofer.com/top-fuel-for-life/ )
The fun and excitement these kids have while playing and building and creating and laughing and smiling - is the reason they are allowed to take chances, think outside the box, be creative, be themselves - and be their best.
As adults, we would be highly served by remembering what it was like to be a kid - and being a kid again. As employers, leaders, managers and parents, it would serve us highly to allow those in our care to be themselves and to be kids again - as the results you are looking from from them will naturally appear. Alternatively, if we continue to subscribe to the opposite model - work hard, give 110%, be serious, focus, sacrifice, focus on success....all those principles that have helped us become the most stressed and unhappiest society in the recorded history of the United States, we will continue to limit ourselves while being less effective and less happy than we want to be. And to take it one step further, many who understand the hidden impacts of stress may go as far to say that this outdated formula is actually killing us....
So I left the Alive! Center feeling like a kid again - younger, happier, less afraid, more optimistic about future possibilities - than I have in quite some time. I didn't get any younger in the hour I was there - actually, I got older. I didn't get acne, I didn't grow any hair back (that's for sure) and I didn't lose any of my adult responsibilities while there. What I did do was remember to choose to change my attitude to one of happy vs. success - and life automatically got better and more effective. Simply apply being happy first - to whatever your adult responsibility is - and you will succeed at a level higher than before.
As we've all heard the saying, 'Kids got it made' the reality is that as adults, all we need to do is to choose to BE a kid again, update our attitude - and things fall into place. Then we can say, 'Adult kids got it made....' If you doubt this simple formula, just look around. Who's smiling and laughing more - kids or adults? Which appeals to you more? That simple choice is ours to make each and every day.
Keep Goin! And choose to BE the kids that we all are inside.