My life is predominantly filled with motion and noise. It makes the moments of calm quiet seem decadent and luxurious. I happen thrive on the motion and noise, in large part because it gives me stuff to reflect on during the decadent, luxurious moments of calm quiet. It’s all integrated in to my health, wellbeing, learning, and growth. I need both paradigms for optimal functioning in either. I need to be consistently infused with input from the world, and from the people I work with, live with, and otherwise spend my time with. I also need to step away from that input in order to dig into making some sort of sense of it.
As I consider the lens through which this particular needs-realization was conceived I can’t help but wonder about wonder. That is to say, I’m feeling curious about curiosity…which is kind of fun. I’m thinking about its connection to imagination and how profoundly that connection has influenced and enhanced my life so far.
I remember being a really curious kid. I remember consistently feeling compelled to make concerted efforts at exploration, discover, and understanding. I don’t recall if I ever truly lost that compulsion, and I can’t say with any degree of certitude that it was ever even diminished in me, but I can report that being almost always surrounded by kids seems to have enriched it.
So much is new and exciting to kids. Everything is about breakthroughs and amazement. I can’t tell you how often I hear, “Did you see that!” or “Look what I found!” in any given day. Typically, when I inquire or turn to look I see that the incredible thing a kid is excited about discovering is a worm, or an airplane, or a little dog wearing a sweater and boots, or something else that adults might mistake for less than earth shattering. Adults make lots of mistakes. It’s ok…we’re learning.
Not only do kids teach us that wonder and imagination are a great combination for joyful, engaged learning, but they show us how to fearlessly participate in both. Do you ever find yourself sitting in very important meeting thinking that you have something to say or ask, but you don’t say or ask it because your worried that the very important people your with will subsequently impart harsh judgments upon you? Little kids typically don’t. Sometimes I do. I try to fight it as best I can…but regardless, I do. Little kids seem to find everything and everyone equally important. It’s a cool way to view the world if you ask me.
But wait! Thinking like a little kid, what if the something you have to say or ask is actually very important? We rarely know how important a thought or a question is before we put it out into the world. I think it would be a shame, and frankly a relatively selfish act, to withhold a potentially very important thought or questions from a group of very important people in a very important meeting. Furthermore, might it be ok to say something that turns out to be not so important? Most people I know who are truly seeking meaningful development are willing to consider, and even interested in hearing any and all thoughts and ideas…very important of otherwise. In fact, some adults I know are much like little kids in that they too find every thought and idea to be very important.
Kids tend to say what they’re thinking when they’re thinking it, and simply because they’re thinking it. When they’re little, they either don’t weight their thoughts and ideas on an importance scale, or again, they believe that all of it is important. I would argue that for that and other reasons little kids have a lot to teach us about exploring and articulating our curiosities. They’re great models of innovative thinking and courageous expression.
Somewhere along the line toward adulthood that capacity seems to weaken, but I believe that it also lingers within each of us, that it remains ready to be tapped at any moment, that kids can lead the way, and that there’s something really important about whatever it is that fuels, nurtures, and perpetuates it. I have found that articulating my excitement over thoughts and ideas is one key ingredient in my genuine wonder and imagination, and that my genuine wonder and imagination is a key combination for my positive progress, in learning, leadership, and life.
Last night on the way home from swim lessons my three-year-old sat quietly looking out his window. Finally, as we were getting close to home he asked, “Daddy, why is the moon following us?”
Do you remember wondering the same thing as a kid? I do. It made me think about why I haven’t been amazed by that phenomenon in so long. Maybe because it’s ridiculous…everyone knows that the moon isn’t following us. But as I remembered wondering about it I remembered how exciting it was. Incredible! I rethought my position. Maybe the moon is following us! Oops, I almost slipped into wonder and imagination surrounding a clearly ridiculous notion. On the other hand, I kind of liked it.
Do you remember the immeasurable joys of wonder and imagination? I think that there are significant learning and leadership benefits in doing so. I would suggest that we might each look to kids for inspiration in that area, that we might each consider and reconsider our positions on believing in ridiculous notions and articulating those beliefs, and that we might each dig down deep for the innovative thinking and the creative expression that’s just waiting to be tapped within us. However, if you have or do decide to go down that road I would further suggest that you do so with extreme caution…you just might like it too!
Live. Learn. Lead.
Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Well.