Why do we make it all so complicated? With all the learning, coaching and reading we’ve done, we let the tips and techniques we’ve collected along the way paralyze us in a place of overanalyzing things. Along with the pain we put ourselves through when we do this, another consequence is what we lose by being so focused on re-evaluating things again and again. We stop being present to the here and now and fail to experience the joy available to us by simply being a part of life.
I watch in wonder each day as my 1-year-old son, Maximus, grows and learns, and it occurred to me how a child’s simple, uncomplicated approach to life can undo so many over-thought and overwrought management issues.
Here are six things a 1-year-old does that we could benefit from trying:
- Express your needs. Babies never fail to let you know they need something. If they are hungry or tired or want to be held, they cry. Simple as that. They speak up and express that they need something. How often do we, as employees, managers and bosses, stay quiet when we need something? We may be unsure if we have the right to make that request, uncertain how to ask for it or waiting for someone to notice the need and offer to meet it. All of those are destined to leave you frustrated. Rather than keeping your needs inside and suffering over them, express yourself. You’ll be surprised that most people are happy to help you meet those needs.
- Keep it simple. If my son wants to play, he picks up a toy and plays. If he is done with a particular item, he puts it down and moves on. He takes action in response to his simple wants and needs. So often, we adults get stuck in a mental maze of what ifs and shoulda’s, and never take action toward what we want. You’ve allowed impressions and expectations to be set by your silence. Some situations certainly require analysis and patience. But often, things can be handled in the here and now by keeping it simple. For example, say your team member comes in 10 minutes late for the second day in a row. Instead of thinking through how to approach this conversation with her and putting on your to-do list to first revise your employee handbook with regard to your late policy, have a quick conversation right away about the employee’s tardiness issue and be done with it.
- Decide to wake up excited every day. Every single morning my son wakes up jabbering, smiling and excited to get up and experience the day. Even though the majority of his day is routine – he eats, he plays, he naps – he still brings a level of excitement day in and day out, and looks for the fun and joy in simply living his life. What difference would that make in our workplace if, instead of waiting for a reason to have a level of energy and happiness, we came “batteries included” and showed up ready to take on the day with a smile? Happiness and excitement tend to be infectious.
- Look at everything as something new and fun to try. Every new toy, new food or new game is something fun and new for Maximus, something that must be tried and repeated. There is no over-processing, no hesitation while he considers if it’s worth the effort. He approaches life as an adventure. What would our workplace be like if we approached it that way?
- Feed your basic needs. If Maximus is hungry, he eats. If he is tired, he goes to sleep. He has basic needs and he fills them. So often in the workplace we ignore those basic needs. Sometimes we literally don’t eat, don’t stop overworking ourselves, or don’t take a vacation to decompress. We don’t meet our basic physical needs, and we expect our bodies to keep up with an unreasonable demand. Even more, we ignore our mental and spiritual needs. Do we take time to reflect, to learn, to rest our minds so we can come to the table fresh and rejuvenated? Or do we feel like we are somehow doing our employees, our bosses, our clients and ourselves a service by showing up dead tired, burned out and mentally on auto-pilot? Feed your needs. You aren’t helping anyone by ignoring them.
- Try it again later. One day my son dislikes a certain food or activity, then two days later we try it again and he loves it. It makes me wonder how often we turn away something we really like, or something that could work really well in our business, because the first time we tried it we didn’t like it, or it didn’t go as easily as we’d hoped. Now, if you track and measure something and it’s not giving you the results you want, don’t keep doing it! But if we really think about it, we give up on a lot of things because we tried it and didn’t like it. “Didn’t like it” might mean we didn’t really give it a full try, we didn’t follow through with everything, or it just felt awkward. New things often do! Try it again – once you get over the initial uncomfortable feeling, you might find that you really like it!
Does approaching everything like a 1-year-old work? Of course not! But for many simple, in-the-moment situations, these six approaches really work. They solve things right away, versus allowing them to be drawn out into a big thing. They allow us to enjoy and be in the moment instead of sticking ourselves behind a wall of analyzing and processing every moment of life.
So try it! Declare now that tomorrow you will wake up excited, express your needs, look at the day as a new adventure, feed your needs as they occur, and keep it simple. And if you didn’t like something, try it again in a few days. Remove a huge percentage of your problems before they become a big deal by addressing them straight on and moving forward, and by having a level of excitement and fun. When did the fun of life get beat out of us? And why are we choosing to let it remain that way? Do it like a 1-year-old and see how exhilarating the simplicity in life can be again.
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Champions of your continued success,
Laney and Molly