As a single, non-parent, I have spent most of my last ten years living a life which is very different from my close friends, colleagues and family who chose to marry and have children. Those differences can make up the contents of another blog on another day – today I want to share what happened when my life intertwined and temporarily merged with my loved ones who have children. More specifically, I want to talk about how my life shifted on its axis, twirled around in a purple haze of bliss and righted itself in a completely new way when it intertwined with the children themselves. A few very special children, all under the age of 11, have given me reason to pause and pay attention. The time we spent together – one on one – playing, eating, swimming, watching movies, drawing and communicating verbally & non-verbally has left me with some insights. Since I am hardwired to find a leadership angle on every insight that is how I MUST share them too!!
Leadership Insight One is Focus. Children teach us the way to focus – being total with every fiber of the being. They watch, they do, they eat without distraction. And when you hang out around them, you have to be focussed too. It made me realize how distracted I have become – the need to check my smart phone every 120 seconds, not staying with a conversation, taking photos in the middle of a blissful moment…yikes. All it did was earn me a scolding from the little ones 🙂
Leadership Insight Two is Let Go. A child does not hang on to a toy or the last bit of sandwich. When he or she is done with it, there is total let go. The same applies to a game or an activity – full focus followed by complete let go. It is immediately forgotten and finished. It made me realize how much I held onto thoughts, events, emotions that were finished – they were not serving me any purpose and yet I was using valuable mind and heart space to garage them.
Leadership Insight Three is Enjoyment. Watch a child feel sand between his toes or catch a wave on his face, watch him taste something yummy or learn a new word…and then see the spontaneous and utter joy on his face, in his eyes and in his entire body. Laughter bubbles out heralding a deeply felt bliss that cannot be contained inside any more. I feel I laughed, giggled, snorted, blew raspberries and got tickled at the simplest things and ended up feeling light somehow. How often do we lose sight of simple joy in our daily activities? And how easy would it be to see it and experience it?
Leadership Insight Four is Trust. One of the highlights of October for me was enjoying the ocean in Goa with my 21-month old friend Shivam. Shivam walks into the ocean with utter trust that defies his littleness and the power of the surf. His body has no resistance, no fear and a total willingness to be carried up and out on the tide. Shivam became my teacher – his trust taught me to trust the flow too! I could see that trust is trusting that which is not clearly trust-worthy – else it is not trust.
Leadership Insight Five is the mother Insight – the insight of being present. A child lives only in the moment. There is no yesterday and no tomorrow. Try telling a child that you will get him ice-cream tomorrow. Ultimately that is the most powerful takeaway from being around children for me – being in the present, devoid of all baggage of the past and the seduction of the future. This is the most powerful Leadership Behavior and actually encompasses the other four quite nicely.
I want to end this post by mentioning all the special children in my life presently who teach me something everyday – Kiah, Jeev, Shivam, Vanya & Avida – and light up my life and my heart. Thank you for including me in your childhood!