5 Lessons Children Can Teach Adults About Life

Fab Giovanetti

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I still remember being ten years old, scrolling through a massive encyclopaedia all about sea life, with my grandad doing his crossword in the other room.

I would intermittently run to my granddad and ask him all sorts of questions:

Why is this fish this colour?

It would be just the beginning of an endless string of “why” questions.

I recall this as an example of the wisdom of children that we’ve lost along the way. We lost touch with the sense of wonder, play and that childlike curiosity that made us hungry to discover the world and push ourselves out of our comfort zone.

This wisdom can teach us so much about life, and it can remind us of some powerful lessons we can apply in our lives.

Play

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we stopped playing. The freedom to do nothing can genuinely help us reclaim our creativity. As adults, we have often been seeing play as childish. Scheduling time to play is not a luxury. It is necessary.

Playing may not be efficient, but it’s a powerful productivity tool. Why?

Young children often learn best when they are playing — a principle that applies to adults. You’ll approach a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.

During one of his TED talks, Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College, said, “from a biological evolutionary perspective, play is nature’s means of ensuring that young mammals, including young human beings, acquire the skills that they need to acquire to develop successfully into adulthood.”

Play reminds us of the importance of taking breaks. It shows us why stepping back and looking at things with entirely different lenses can help us overcome obstacles we would not otherwise.

Taking the time to replenish yourself through play is one of the best ways to help you throughout the entrepreneurial journey.

Whether it’s a hobby, adventure, or simply rekindling with boredom, play is a crucial part of being who we are. As you block your calendar with “must” appointments, I would encourage you to start adding more “fun” dates with yourself and embrace play, in whichever form comes naturally to you.

Awe

There is nothing more magical than experiencing something from the first time. That sense of awe is one adults have lost along the way.

Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, who piloted Apollo 14 and was the sixth American to walk on the moon, described his 1971 lunar landing mission as “an overwhelming sense of universal connectedness.”

Many other astronauts have recalled similarly overwhelming sensations of awe seeing Earth from space. This cognitive shift reported by astronauts is so common that the scientific community even has a name for it: The Overview Effect.

According to a 2015 study in the journal Emotion, awe, more than any other positive feeling such as positive awareness, is linked to lower levels of a molecule called Interleukin-6, which is associated with stress and inflammation.

Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, has shown that awe is tied directly to feelings of expansiveness, transcendence, and connection.

Yet, Keltner argues, we are increasingly awe-deprived. “Adults spend more time working and commuting and less time outdoors and with other people,” he wrote in a 2016 essay, adding that we’ve become “more individualistic, more narcissistic, more materialistic, and less connected to others.”

Strive to actively seek out experiences that nurture your hunger for awe and wonder and create positive experiences around the world you live in.

Emotional intelligence

There are many ways we can look at pragmatisms and social skills and what children can teach us about that. I want to focus on it through the lenses of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence allows us to understand excellent skills when it comes to self-regulation, empathy, and social skills, a toolkit children will develop freely, as they are not yet pressured by norms, rules and social etiquette the ‘adult world’ will put upon them.

It can support us in our relationships by leading by example, being inspired, focused, and motivated. If we were to better get in touch with that, we’d be much better leaders.

Emotional intelligence accounts for 67% of the abilities necessary for superior leadership performance, according to Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

It includes a high level of self-awareness, directly correlated to confidence. As an example, good communicators can listen to others also show great emotional intelligence.

Last but not least, empathy is a critical element of emotional intelligence, as it allows us to be more influential and develop better social awareness skills, and tap into the needs of our friends and family without having to ask.

One of the starting points to develop better emotional intelligence is by becoming a better listener. It will help suggest practical ways to support ypeople so that maybe they wouldn’t be able to express themselves, or seeing issues how others see them can help you gain valuable perspective.

Curiosity

There are so many ways you can cultivate curiosity. One of them is to be simply open to learning something new every day — whether it’s for your professional or personal development, fall in love with learning.

I wish I could tell you there is a time when you can stop learning. However, just as to live, we have to evolve. To grow, we have to keep on learning. It’s easy to use busy as our encompassing excuse for not being able to spend some time learning something new. It’s easy to fall out of the practice itself, and this is when learning is no more an enjoyable activity but a chore.

Successful personal brands are trend-setters, and as such, people are looking up to them to hear, see, and get inspired by the latest trends, products, or strategies they tried and tested.

Learning can be something you do in so many different ways at any given time. Learning is such a fundamental aspect, yet something overlooked due to the way personal brands are perceived nowadays.

In his book, The Talent Code, author Daniel Coyle uses cutting edge neurological research to “crack the talent code” and provide the reader with the three key factors behind the development of every talent: deep practice, ignition (or motivation) and master coaching.

Coyle states that talent is directly linked to myelin growth, which is the insulation that wraps around our neural circuits. To stimulate myelin growth, you have to practice at the very edge of your current abilities to make mistakes and correct them wilfully. Create a practice that encourages you to learn, find your inner motivation to do so, and find accountability to keep you inspired in your learning process (Coyle calls master coaching).

Inquisition

Let’s go back to my example about colourful sea life. Why is truly one of the common questions children would ask daily — I indeed did. Yet, far too often, I remember how I would be dismissed as a child. We have learned that asking some questions is stupid — that we should not question things altogether.

It pains me to see that has also been my case for a very long time. I stopped questioning things; I stopped trying to get to the bottom of why we do certain things as humans.

When we decide as customers, we rarely can pinpoint on a conscious level the reason why. Not being afraid to ask them questions that may look “obvious” on a surface level can tell us so much more about them. This concept is known as “laddering” and is a structured questioning technique designed to acquire nuggets of information that are otherwise very difficult to get at.

Conventional research methods will often only produce a very shallow understanding of what is going on when we do not ask the right questions. I encourage you to be inquisitive and ask yourself and others ”why” more often. Not just once — don’t give up on their first answer.

Be willing to dig deeper to know why they made a particular choice. Once your audience gives you the first answer, ask again, “and why is that?”. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll learn.

“Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.” — Jess Lair, author

Children can teach us adults so much if we are willing to step back and rekindle with some of these traits we have somewhat lost along the way. Find ways to embrace the wisdom of children:

  • How can you embrace play in your day-to-day life?
  • Where can you find awe around you?
  • Can you cultivate better empathy and social skills?
  • Are you willing to learn something new?
  • How can you get a better understanding of what people want?

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