I became a grandmother just over a year ago, a status I maintain I am far too young to inhabit. However, a recent babysitting stint has reaffirmed some life, and indeed coaching lessons, that I believe are worth sharing.
The ability to see life through a child’s eyes, before the whole business of living gets in the way is a skill lost to many of us. Most of us are so bogged down with day to day tasks, or at least allow ourselves to get so bogged down, that we forget to see the wonder and excitement in the small stuff. We also seem to lose that innate trust that small children have that everything will be okay.
Little ones are experts at living in the now – an ability that gets beaten (sometimes quite literally) out of us over time. As we grow up we are constantly reminded of the potential consequences of our actions and all the possible permutations of what could go wrong in any given situation are frequently reiterated by the adults around us.
As a result, if not counterbalanced with positive re-enforcement we can develop self-doubt, fear, anxiety, and a general uncertainty about our everyday actions and decisions that can hold us back throughout our lives.
Little ones have none of this, they act, cry, laugh, shout and scream without hesitation, fear or too thought.
Now, I am not saying that as adults we should run around having crying fits whenever we don’t get our own way, or expect someone to get us out of whatever scrapes we get ourselves into. BUT – I do think we could all take some life lessons from those little ankle biters.
Small children may be easily distracted and have a short attention span, but when they are focused on something they are truly focused. They are totally absorbed in what they are doing in a way that we often struggle with. Children have the ability to concentrate without the clutter and ‘to-do’ lists that inhabit our adult minds.
So my current reminders from my granddaughter are:
- To see life as an adventure, and enjoy the small stuff
- To focus on the task at hand with the single mindedness of a wee one, and don’t let the clutter of everyday life interrupt the flow
- Believe in yourself, and learn from the things that don’t go your way
I dare say as my little granddaughter grows she will teach me more, or at least enable me to reconnect with the important things in life. The simple life lessons are generally the most important and unsurprisingly are the ones we most often forget as adults.
To begin to reconnect with our inner child there are some very simple things we can initiate.
Rather than getting annoyed or frustrated we just decide to see a given situation as an adventure. Clearly this strategy might not be effective in every situation – nonetheless there will be many times in our lives that the opportunity will arise to decide to see adventure over frustration.
Getting lost, for example, could be a frustration or an adventure, think ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and stop to see the wonder in the simple things in life. It might sound daft – but actually looking at the beauty of a flower with its amazing complexity yet simplicity, and really appreciate its exquisiteness for a moment.
Focus is something many of us struggle with – I have certainly had many coaching clients who believe they are unable to focus. They says that they have too many things to do, not enough time to do them in and their ability to focus is scattered and erratic. Once you break that down what most people identify is a state of overwhelm. There are many tricks and tips to address overwhelm, but one of my favourite practical tips is the beloved ‘timer’. Set your timer for 10 mins and focus on just one task. You can build up the time as you progress, but the trick is to start small.
Now for the biggie – belief in yourself…
Toddlers generally have little perception that they can’t do something – they try and keep trying until they master the skill at hand. A baby who starts crawling doesn’t think that they will never be able to walk. They just keep trying until they can toddle around on two legs, and they don’t beat themselves up when they have had enough of walking and revert to crawling. They try and put that square peg in that round hole a million times before they get it right. They don’t think they are rubbish for not being able to get it right first time, they don’t berate themselves and believe they are rubbish as adults often do. They might get frustrated when they don’t manage it – but importantly, they don’t sit with that frustration for days on end. They have an inherent trust that it will all be okay and don’t seem to care that that square peg won’t fit in the round hole – half way in is good enough.
So, the next time you catch yourself thinking that you are rubbish at something or saying to someone ‘oh yeah, I am really crap at that’ stop and understand that negative self-talk dents your belief and trust in yourself. Change your language both internally and externally to something a little more soothing – perhaps ‘I could be good at that if I practiced a little more.’ It’s a simple shift, but one that over time can really help with self-belief.
The question for the comments below this blog is – What lessons have you learned from the children around you?
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