In my view, most adults have become too adult (that goes for me too). It’s time to take a pause and reconnect with your inner child.

My kids have been a tremendous source of inspiration to me. As I’ve watched them grow and evolve over the years, I’ve noticed quite a few things that kids do very differently compared to us ‘grown-ups’. Yes yes, you might be thinking to yourself ‘thanks for spelling out the obvious’…. And you are correct, I am clearly stating the obvious: kids do many things differently to adults. From the way they interact with others, to the way they see the world, perceiving things around them, and so much more (don’t get me started on the toilet humour and other weird, gross acts kids seem to take absolute pleasure in…).

As adults we’ve come to accept these differences, even going as far as believing that as adults we cannot do many of things that kids do. That many things are the realm for those still in their childhood. That adults should behave in certain ways (as taught to us by society at large), and that anything else should be left to the kids because we accept them for behaving in those ways, because, well, they’re kids.

Well, I challenge this notion. As a keen observer of human and organisational behaviour, I have spent a lot of time watching and observing my kids (often quite amused, other times just confused or simply in horror) as they journey through life. Having reflected on what I’ve seen, it has become very apparent to me that adults are missing out. Yep. WE ARE MISSING OUT!!!!

Of the numerous behaviours you might see if you observe children long enough, you will notice that one really stands out among the many: children appear to be more willing to experiment and explore. This willingness to experiment, to explore, increases their perception of the world, exposing kids to new ideas and concepts, influencing their personal development. We won’t go into the psychology behind all this, but it is safe to say that kids just don’t have the societal boundaries that we have developed as adults, nor have they developed the biases that all of us carry around with us. As one research paper on the topic states ‘Unlike adults, children are motivated to explore despite the costs. As a result, they generate more extensive data and learn from that data accurately.’ (1)

Looking at the concept of personal development, most of us know that it is a key requirement for anyone seeking to become a better version of themselves, achieving goals and aspirations that they have set themselves. This is all great stuff, I’m a huge believer in pursuing lifelong personal development activities (hence why I’m doing a PhD), however, I have found that there is a problem with a lot of the personal development movement. In fact, this problem is also the problem that in my view stifles innovation in organisations and is one of the causes of the high failure rates of digital transformation experienced by businesses globally.

Can you guess what it is?

I’ll give you a very clear hint. I want you to reflect on the following questions for a moment:

·         When was the last time you experimented at work?

·         When was the last time you experimented at home?

·         When was the last time you explored something new, something completely out of your field of knowledge or experience?

·         Is experimentation and exploration supported in your work environment?

·         How do you feel when experiments don’t work out, or when you hit a roadblock with your exploration?

To me it seems very evident. We have made the notions of ‘fearing the unknown’, of ‘fearing the failure’, into something to FEAR, thereby resulting in an inability to truly become what we could be as individuals, as organisations, as a society. It’s eye-opening when you realise just how little experimentation and exploration is supported by workplaces and by society in general. We’ve let FEAR influence our thoughts and actions to the point where not only do we have a tendency to avoid things that make us FEAR, but, as a result, we stop experimenting and exploring. Herein lies this problem I’ve hinted at. This is one of the biggest issues with the personal development movement. And a key reason why organisations struggle with innovation, and why so many digital transformation endeavours fail.

WE HAVE BECOME TOO ADULT. We have come to fear experimentation and exploration, for fear of failure, for fear of the unknown. As a result, WE ARE MISSING OUT. Observe the kids around you and see them revel in experimentation and exploration. Watch their eyes light up when they work something out. Watch their brains tick over when their experiments fail, quizzically wondering about what happened.

Personal development cannot be learnt purely through textbooks, workshops, YouTube videos, seminars, having 1:1’s with coaches or mentors. True personal development can only be had when you are willing to embrace seeking new experiences, experiment, being willing to fail, willing to learn from your mistakes. The same goes for organisational development and for activities such as digital transformation. True digital transformation is built on the notion that experimentation and exploration are the only ways to know how to create and build the future. The same goes for innovation. One cannot innovate if one fears experimenting, exploring and at its core, fears fear itself.

So. Let’s embrace our inner child. Bring more of that inquisitive, experimental behaviour into your life, into your work, into your organisation and embrace whatever comes your way – be they successes or complete failures.

This quote nicely sums up my final thoughts: “You will fail sometimes, not because you planned to, but simply because you’re human. Failure is part of creating a great life.” Les Brown

Written by Peter Spinda – contact me by filling out our contact form or send an email to info@malekso.com.au to discuss your Business Model, Strategy, Digital Transformation or Executive Coaching and Mentoring needs!

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