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GET BACK YOUR KID MOJO

GET BACK YOUR KID MOJO

Children fascinate me.

The coolest thing about kids, I think, is this:  They come into this world as a bundle of wonder and curiosity.

BEGINNER MIND POWER

Kids know they don’t know, they’re hard-wired to find out, and they are absolutely single-minded in their efforts.  They are the epitome of relentless, the very best role models for persistence.

Every one of them is working on mastery.  They all want to know how to do it all well.

It doesn’t stop:  walking, talking, tying shoelaces, making friends, riding a bike, playing games, finding out how something works and why you do this and not that.  On and on and on.

halcyon-days
Halcyon Days” by Sel Felin via Flickr [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]
They notice everything (especially the stuff the adults would rather they didn’t) and they are interested in every single little thing they encounter.

Their major mistakes are usually the result of ignorance.  They just don’t know enough yet and a lot of their plans fall apart because of that.  (That tends to give the people who care about them the heebie-jeebies, but so what?)

When they’re starting out, kids are determined to catch on and catch up.

determination
“Determination” by Susan Lloyd via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
They want to do it themselves.

They want to get good and they want to show they know what they know.

SMALL IS COOL

Kids start small.  After all, they are little and they are weak and have to depend on the Bigs around them just for survival.  (But, THAT is gonna change!  Uh-huh.)

small-steps
“Small Steps” by john mccaffrey via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Every time they make a misstep, it’s usually just a small hiccup in their forward progress.

The little guys haven’t gotten to the big stuff yet and if they’ve got Bigs who help to keep them mostly safe from the ordinary life-threatening stuff, kids can pick themselves up and try again…and again and again…until they get to where they want to go.

If the circumstances in their lives are harder, more unfortunate, or even downright dangerous, then the ones who survive learn more and they learn faster and often they get even better at not giving up.

ratchathewi-skytrain-stop
“Ratchathewi Skytrain Stop (Bangkok, Thailand) by drburtoni via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Every little win is its own reward.  (One more down, what’s next?)

TIME IS ON THEIR SIDE

Kids know time is on their side.

time-is-on-my-side
“Time Is On My Side” by Daniel Novta via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
They’re going to get bigger.

They’re going to get those flabby muscles built up and that tongue moving right.

They already know how to act cute, and they are going to learn how to make friends and influence all those Bigs too.

They’re going to keep on going until they get there.

Kids only absolutely know they have Now, and Now is when they want to do something, so they work with whatever they’ve got going and they do what they can with it.

They’re going to find out everything they need to know about everything they want to know…just, EVERYTHING.

PLAY AS SERIOUS WORK

Kids also know that play is really serious work.  It’s how you learn what you need to know.

When they get the chance to play, they will go for it.  Why not?  Maybe they will learn something.

hard-at-work
“Hard at Work” by quadrant via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
You can just see the wheels turning as they play.

You can just imagine them thinking, You watch:  I’m going to get out there and I’m going to rock the world!  Yes, I am!

GETTING BACK TO THE MOJO

Sounds familiar, right?

We all started out like that.  Some of us manage to hang onto the wonder and use it to leverage ourselves up and on to doing more and more amazing things.  The rest of us wonder how come we don’t.

There are a lot of lessons you can learn about mastery by watching kids.  Here are some examples:

  • IT ALL STARTS WITH WONDER AND INTEREST.  Even as adults, we know this.  If you are not interested in something, you just don’t pay attention to it and you don’t notice the lessons that are right there in front of you.
wonder
“Wonder” by Cristian via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
  • SMALL WORKS. We’re all little compared to the Universe.  We all have limitations.  We get to where we want to go by doing what we can with what we’ve got.
vancouver-snowmen
“Vancouver Snowmen!” by danna & curious tangles via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
  • NOW IS WHEN YOU DO SOMETHING. It’s the only time when you can.  You can’t change the past.  The future is out of reach.  There really is no other when to do something.
now
“Now” by Kai Schreiber via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
  • PERSISTENCE AND WILL RULES. If you haven’t gotten to where you want to go yet, then that’s a sign that you’re not done yet.
persistence
“Persistence” by Jeff Sandquist via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
  • MIS-STEPS AND MISTAKES THAT DON’T KILL YOU DON’T MATTER. So you fell down.  Ouch!  Now try to get back up.  Not happening?  Well, hell…you can crawl, right?
mistaken
“Mistaken” by Paradis Photographis via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
  • KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Whatever you know is what you know.  What you know can be used to get to where you want to go.  What else do you want or need to know?  Go get it.
kids-at-deep-space-8k
“Kids at Deep Space 8K” by Ars Electronica via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
  • PLAY IS HOW YOU LEARN.

public-service-announcement
“Public Service Announcement” by Jason Mrachina via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Isn’t it funny that these lessons are the same ones that we hear from all the wise guys and life counselors and self-help books?

FINAL THOUGHTS

My theory is that somehow, on our way to learning how to be adults, we got distracted by the details and have forgotten the power with which we were born.

I get the feeling that power’s still there, waiting for you to notice, and if you’ve forgotten what it looks like, then the Universe has lots and lots of little guys who can help you remember.

My own feeling is, if you’re stuck in the suck of trying to be a cog in some wheel not of your own making, the best thing you can do is watch kids…your own kids, kids belonging to your friends and family, stranger kids doing their thing, whatever.

Watch what they do.   See what works.  Do that.

This YouTube video is a compilation of jaw-dropping performances by some amazing kids.  It was put together by People Are Awesome in 2017.

Here’s a poem:


SAME LESSON

The world is a bigger cup

Than your small hands can manage.

It is heavy and close to overflowing.

The hot liquid heart-blood it holds

Burns your fingers

As you concentrate on not-dropping,

As you try yet again to

Navigate over another

Wide, slick, sparkly-clean floor.

 

Your wrists ache

And you grit your teeth.

You try, try, try,

Harder and harder,

To hold onto that cup

That seems to get heavier

As you walk along.

 

There it goes…

Another splat,

Another slip,

Another mess.

The cup’s lying there, emptied,

And all the stuff’s spread out

In one grand sploosh spattered all over

That proud new pair of shoes

As old issues come bubbling up to blindside you,

 

As the shouting starts you notice that

The issues are not even yours.

 

Toddler lessons revisited:

My small, but not my bad.

It helps to remember that

The world is heavy

And it’s way, way big for small people…

It helps to remember that

We are all small.

 

Hmmm…

Maybe we just need smaller cups.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Power” by BadWolfBobbi via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

 

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ASK THE STUPID QUESTION

ASK THE STUPID QUESTION

I had a friend who won my admiration because his constant go-to request was always this:  “Can I ask a stupid question?” Then he’d ask a question that was A-B-C simple about something I thought I knew.

I’d answer the question (out of my own great wisdom, of course).  It made me feel so good to be able to be…uh-hem…The Expert.

My friend Les listened carefully.  He’d think on what I said.  Then he’d ask more “stupid” questions, helping me explore where my thoughts might lead. One thought would lead to the next and then the next.  He’d interject his own insights, showing me that he was listening and appreciating what I had to say.  In the discussion that would inevitably follow, with me expounding and him asking more and more questions, a light would start to dawn.  Often, I’d reach the limits of my understanding fairly quickly, and still he had more questions.

That’s when the real fun began.  Because he brought a little-kid wonder to the exchange and he’d jump in with his own thoughts on the thing, new ideas would start popping up.  Often they were things I’d never considered.  Les would start grinning wide and bring up another question.  He’d get all sparkly and go with the flow of the conversation, interjecting “yes-and” thoughts, building on the mind-construct I would make.

Les had a lot of fun running with ideas.  (I guess nobody ever told him that ideas are like scissors and it can be dangerous to run with them.   Nobody told him that the ideas can cut you if you’re not careful.)

Our discussions got quite lively.  They really were a lot of fun. At the end of all our talk-story, we’d hug each other, hugely satisfied by our game, and go along on our merry ways.  And my take-away, always, was another way of seeing the world and more ideas for explorations and moves to try.

I don’t know what he got out of these talks we had, but it sure was a lot of fun.

A MASTER IS ALWAYS AN AMATEUR IN DISGUISE

We are always being told that being a “master” is the pinnacle of our journeys toward Achievement and $ucce$$.  It’s the end-all, be-all of the whole thing, they say.  Be a Master, Rule the World.  R-i-i-ight.

In this YouTube video, “Sarah Lewis:  Be a Deliberate Amateur,” which was published by the National Association of Independent Schools in 2015, art historian Sarah Lewis tells us that part of the process of developing Mastery is knowing how to fall back into an I-Don’t-Know state of mind and ask “stupid questions.”

Who knew?

Lewis is an Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  She is also the author of the LA Times bestseller book, THE RISE:  Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery.

Her book explores the question of how new ideas happen and is a lively and interesting read that has won widespread praise.  It mashes history, biography and psychological research together and explores the value of what the wise guys call “Beginner-Mind”.  In it, Lewis points out the value of retaining that natural sense of wonder you carried around as a child.

 BEGINNER-MIND ON THE RISE

The following YouTube video is a part of a series published by Mindfulnessgruppen, a Stockholm-based company offering courses and trainings based on mindfulness.  It features mindfulness researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn exploring the benefits of Beginner Mind, one of what he calls “the nine attitudes of mindfulness.”

Kabat-Zinn’s life-work has been explorations of the mind-body connection and how mindfulness helps promote health and well-being.   He’s been credited with bringing the once-obscure concept of Mindfulness into mainstream thought, it says here.  After Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness was no longer just the province of wrinkled, half-naked, bearded old men sitting in caves all blissed-out.

The man has written numerous ground-breaking books in the field, and is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.   As a result of his studies, testing and developing assorted practical applications for his discoveries, Kabat-Zinn figured out a way for people to use mindfulness to help reduce stress.  He and his crew teach other people how to do his MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction).

The whole thing is a further iteration of old wisdom that’s been made new and relevant to our own world now.

 THE WONDER OF IT ALL

In order to explore ideas to their fullest extent (or at least as far as your own mind can take them), it’s clear that you need to get back to Beginner-Mind.  That is the start of it all, it seems.

The very best thing about the Beginner-Mind mindset is the sense of wonder that is a part of our birthright as humans.  We can wonder.  We can think.  We can dream.

This extraordinarily beautiful YouTube video, The Wonder of Life, was published by RedFrost Motivation in 2015.  In it, Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, some of the best of our scientific thinkers, give us things to ponder while the guys who put together the video blow up our minds big and bigger with out-of-this-world images and heart-expanding music.

My own thought on all of this is that it gets really hard to think small when you figure out that you’re made up of the same stuff as stars and rainbows and butterflies.

Here’s a poem:

 


CLARITY’S COMING

Oh…here I am again.

I LIKE this place:

Standing on the tippy top

Of a razorback ridge,

Rocking in the wind,

Waiting for…I don’t know what.

 

Clarity’s coming…

The mist is down there,

Looking like the softest bed,

And the other mountain tops

Are poking through the cloud-duvet,

The strong, silent types.

The sky’s that “come-and-fly” blue

That pierces your heart

And breaks it open.

 

Clarity’s coming,

And the world’s going to change again.

Wonder what’s going to happen next.

(It’s never what I think, you know…

The world pays no attention to

Ant pronouncements and jellyfish goals.

It just keeps on turning, the World.)

 

Clarity’s coming

And there’s something new

That’s been there all the time,

Just waiting in the wings for

Its turn to dance.

And there I will be –

The faithful audience –

My hair all messy from the head-scratching,

Another stupid grin plastered on my face.

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  Wonder by technolibrary via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

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