A great teacher once said to be like children. How well does that apply to life through business? Here’s a deep dive into growing brain activity, personal experience and observations.
I’ve discovered five lessons children teach us about business. This article will cover:
- Look Ahead with Wonder.
- Absorb Like Sponges.
- Follow the Fun.
- Ask ‘Why’ a Lot.
- Have No Sense of Failure.
- Make Friends Everywhere.
#1 Look Ahead with Wonder
A child’s outlook is bright, they have their whole life ahead. They dream big and let their imagination run wild. Kids look ahead with wonder and focus on what’s exciting.
How can this benefit us in business?
Be optimistic about your business outlook. Positive thinking isn’t wishful thoughts, but a state of mind. A better state of mind impacts all we do and improves life quality.
“If you are energized… that energy will transmit into the people working around you.” – Giglio Del Borgo, manager at Experian.
A poor state of mind leads to negative thinking and bad decision making. This lowers our daily performance impacting customer experience, leadership abilities, and output.
If you have a poor state of mind for a long period, it becomes a detrimental habit. Luckily habits can break, but they’re hard to break. Tapping into your childhood is a great place to start.
How do you tap into your child-like wonder?
- Watch your favourite movie from childhood.
- Pull out your old family photos or belongings.
- Talk to parents or those who knew you at a young age.
- Every day, write down childhood memories and reminisce on them.
- If possible, travel to where you grew up, even if it’s virtual via digital maps.
- Rediscover your biggest dreams as a child.
As adults we can’t retain the same child-like wonder we had, that’s fine. But having a part of it with us which we can tap into, well that can be a powerful tool. Look ahead with a hopeful sense of possibility to better approach business life. We don’t need everything figured out, children don’t, and that only drives them more.
#2 Absorb Like Sponges
As the brain develops, it’s a sponge for new information. Kids are always watching and copying others, they notice everything. They pick up languages and learn skills with ease. How desirable!
What if we absorbed everything like a sponge too? Sounds impossible as adult brains are nothing like children’s. But instead, we practised being more attentive, paying closer attention and listening better.
Being more attentive toward situations leads to better understanding of co-workers or customers. We could better listen to feedback and make changes where necessary. We could be more proactive and think ahead for our customers. Being a sponge brings benefits.
How can absorb like a sponge?
- Listen when co-workers/customers speak to you.
- Observe social settings and how others interact.
- Note the physical actions of co-workers/customers.
Not allowing ourselves to absorb our environments could leave us behind. A sponge-like approach to business, will better equip ourselves for when problems arise. We’ll have taken on lessons from others and understand circumstances with clearer intent.
“Listening is a leadership responsibility that does not appear in the job description.” – Glenn Llopis, Forbes.
The balance? Luckily we don’t have to absorb 100% or our surroundings, and we wouldn’t want to. Over time we can absorb what we need to.
#3 Follow The Fun
It feels good receiving a present from friends or family, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s a new tech gadget or a book from your favourite author. We get excited! For children, the excitement is on another level! Some kids get overwhelmed when their parents give them the latest gaming console. They’ll spend every waking second playing for as long as they can.
What can this teach us about business?
Kids know how to follow the fun. At that wondrous age, there’s no care in their world, they want to play and enjoy life. Imagine having a small chunk of that mindset! Wouldn’t life be more enjoyable?
- What aspects of your business do you enjoy?
- Where is the fun in your work?
If you can find those tasks you enjoy, that’s your fun! Follow it!
“All work and no play makes us crabby and dull! Where there is laughter, joy and fun, high-performance teams thrive.” – Christine Comaford, Forbes.
For example, I love spending time with student’s who care about their learning. I help all students and give equal attention. But where I find the most fun is spending my time with the ones who put earnest effort into their work. It’s not the better results but the willingness to try harder and achieve them. I’m proud to play a small part in their learning journey.
Following shiny things allows us to let emotion through. Kids are balls of feelings, they throw tantrums including yelling, screaming and crying. We don’t need to be 100% like a child. Over time they learn to harness their emotion and use words to better portray how they feel. Often we subdue our internal emotion depending on our social environment. Find the balance.
Say what you think and act how you feel.
“…improve the output and productivity…increase the fun quotient…” – Bina Jhaveri, Leadership Coach.
Combine looking ahead with wonder and absorbing like a sponge to follow shiny things. A bright outlook paired with a desire to learn will give you a lot to follow.
#4 Ask ‘Why’ a Lot
Have you ever had a child ask you ‘why’? You explain cars help us get around, but then you’re greeted with another ‘why’. So, you muster up patience and explain calmly that cars are necessary in the adult world. Of course, you receive another ‘why’ question.
Kids ask why to meet their brains need to understand. That wonderous lense leaves them questioning every frustrating detail. How can that help us? Drilling down to the bare-bone of why something exists is a powerful process.
Imagine if you asked ‘why’ in your business:
- Why am I spending so much on marketing?
- Why am I allowing low-levels of productivity?
- Why is the new website not bringing in more leads?
By asking ‘why’ more and more, you’re increasing the likely hood of finding the root cause problem. This is a conversion optimisation tool used in web design. Talia Wolf describes this as the Emotional Targeting Methodology.
Asking why is the best way to uncover true issues to better solve them. Challenge existing policies and processes in your business. Why are tasks completed this way? Get past surface-level conversations, understand people’s true intent. Why did you give this type of negative feedback?
“I have found that asking why I’m doing things is an effective means of building understanding before digging deeper into the details.” – Chris Van Natto, Mentor Works.
#5 Have No Sense of Failure
Kids are amazing with their ‘zero perception of failing’. Failure is gone, climbing trees, riding waves and skating hills are the focus. Kids don’t try, they just DO. Removing failure often leads to more action. Action is our greatest friend in the business.
“…the feeling of fear or anxiety… often falls into the perceived ‘psychological threat’ camp – usually a result of culture, uncertainty, feelings of isolation or difficult relationships.” – Simon Ashton, Training Journal
Embracing failure results in over-thinking situations to a crippling degree. Fear of failure is an emotion that stops us from making the decision altogether. Fear gives poor mental health which sturs a lack of motivation and negative thinking.
Letting fear fester is different from waying the cons when making business decisions. It’s a good thing to look at the negatives in business ventures, don’t make it a habit to ONLY look at negatives. Focusing on negatives is a quick descent downward.
Removing failure removes barriers. With an unstoppable will-power to succeed, barriers will be easier overcome. Meaning you can’t go backwards because you remove the option altogether. This gives a solution-based approach to business.
Without a sense of failure, you’ll want to try new things more often.
#6 Make Friends Everywhere
While our mum shopped, my brother and I played at the shopping centre’s playground. My brother was always good at it, he’d walk up to kids and say “want to play tiggy (it’s the Australian name for tag)?” Within a few minutes, he’d have an entire playground in a fun game he started. He’s always been good at making friends, ever since he was little.
Kids are fascinated with other kids so making friends is natural. An instinct to follow the fun and a lack of failure leaves making friends easy. No overthinking or worries about rejection, only a simple desire to make friends.
“Good friends are vitally important to your mental health and to the quality of your life… Friendship is an opportunity to love, to learn about yourself, to mature as a human being, and to open up to the full experience of life.” – Shirley Vandersteen, Consulting Psychologist.
Making friends is equal to making connections or building a network in business. It’s dressed up but it’s the same as people only want to spend time with those they like. Business partnerships align when morals, values and outcomes align. A lot of the time it comes from getting along with each other.
A child-like approach to making friends gives better connections. To network successfully like a child, have this in mind:
- Be yourself: Kids don’t know how to be anyone else.
- Show interest in others: Kids are fascinated with other children.
- Help others first before yourself: Kids often offer toys or food to share.
A focus on making friends will increase your luck surface area giving better outcomes. You’ll also have more fun socialising and being around better people you like.
Drew Page from Business Woman Media, says that making friends in the workplace leads to “stronger company culture, company loyalty, increased productivity, more effective teams and increased engagement.”