Andrew Parsons and Ann Craig discuss some ways to harness you inner child to bring spontaneity, creativity, curiosity and a capacity to learn without fear to help you succeed. Harnessing your inner child like, nature can support your journey to fulfilling your potential.
If you were to ask a colleague or friend “How can I become more successful in my life or career?” How many people would suggest that you should harness your inner child qualities? Probably not very many. However, doing so might provide an edge for your success.
As Children develop they undergo some amazing transformations. They learn to walk and talk, but some of the most dramatic growth occurs in the brain itself. The newborn brain is approximately a quarter of its adult weight, and billions of neurones are generated in just a few years.
What can we learn from Children?
Be Curious and play: A natural curiosity helps young children to keep on trying; curiosity is a great driver for success. Children learn how the world works through playing games. This enables us to become good problem solvers and to find different ways to achieve our goals. A beginner’s mind finds new solutions rather than getting stuck on expectations.
Trust your Instincts: Children sometimes lack self-control, but, as they mature, they gradually learn how to manage themselves, especially their emotions. We all have an innate ability to be spontaneous and, as we develop, we spend a lot of time controlling ourselves. What would be possible if we could tune back into our ability to sense what is really happening.
Act without Fear: Fear makes evolutionary sense. When societies evolved into hunter–gatherers I can imagine that the sense of “Don’t go into the back of the cave” was really beneficial. As we don’t know what is there, and it’s a great default safety mechanism. Young children can act without fear; they act without analysing what might happen.
A question of Balance: As we develop, we learn from our experiences and try and find our identities, where we fit into our families, communities and the wider society. We cannot fulfil our potential in the world if we never grow up or remain locked into patterns of child-like behaviour.
Harnessing your inner child is about leveraging all that’s useful and building a mindful perspective. Psychologists call this the meta-perspective, and it is really about noticing that you notice.
How to harness your inner child? Here are six things to practice.
Play with Purpose: Bring real curiosity to just one thing you do each day. Ask yourself some questions: What I am learning? What am I noticing about me in this experience? Adopting a mindset that allows you to make mistakes and learning from them brings growth and success.
Tell Stories: Stories are wonderful metaphors for making sense of the world in which we live. What story would you tell about yourself and what you want to achieve? Who are you in the story? By telling your story, it almost makes it real. If you don’t have a friend handy, try recording it.
Tap into your Subconscious with Drawing or Writing: Take a few moments to draw something. Don’t think, just draw or write. Once you have finished, what do you notice about it? Free writing can be a great way to get to the bottom of things or issues that might be going on in your world. It could be opportunities, threats, strengths and even weaknesses. What do you notice? Free writing might take 30 minutes or more to tap into your subconscious and you need to keep writing, whatever comes out. Which is best for you?
Reflection: With the plethora of aids to manage our activities and save time, our society is now one in which finding a space for reflection can become increasingly difficult. One of the key practices is to take a moment. Notice what is working well, where you are having fun, what is making you happy. You might want to keep an appreciation diary of what and whom you most appreciated today. Try it – just for today – and you may start to look for different opportunities.
Meditate: There are literally 1000s of meditations that can be brought into your day-to-day experience. Whether it is for a minute, several minutes, or hours Meditation is a form of mental training that builds the skill of paying attention.
Practice with Compassion: Building new patterns takes time and energy. It may take lots of time to practice a skill and become proficient at it. The secret is to build these approaches into your life, make them part of the day, and then slowly and surely to let them become a part of who you are. It is also important to do this with compassion for yourself and others. Self-growth and development is really a never-ending journey. If you think you are there, you have further to go. Remember to give yourself a break. If today has not been as successful as you hoped, there is always what you learned for tomorrow.