The best places I’ve worked have been those where people approached work in a playful, childlike manner.
Unfortunately, I’ve also worked with stuffy, adult-like colleagues who made work a drudgery. They took themselves much too seriously.They mistakenly believed that work, by its very definition, must be onerous. Inevitably, they failed to produce memorable results.
I much prefer being with the creative, fun and productive people who spend their time “working” on meaningful projects. They are the ones who are destined to leave an indelible mark on this world.
They make a difference, in part, because they think and act like children. (Note: being childlike and childish are two very separate characteristics.)
The ideal workplace is populated with people who freely exhibit the following childlike virtues:
- Curious. Children are inquisitive and ask lots of questions. Answers to those questions spawn follow-up questions. The creative journey never ends.
- Creative. They inherently combine existing elements to form new patters. They punch through boredom by making good use of existing resources.
- Candid. A child will often speak the truth that others see but, in their adult-like manner, refuse to acknowledge. Remember, in Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story, it was a child who first pointed out the obvious: the emperor had no clothes.
- Simplistic. In my opinion, nothing kills natural growth and creative development more that complexity and bureaucracy. Simple ideas are usually the most durable.
- Playful. To a child, life is a game, an unfolding adventure of discovery, learning and exploration. The best games require strategy, mental alertness and commitment. Win or lose, a child always knows there are more games to play. The fun continues.
- Flexible. Children haven’t lived long enough to be deeply vested in the status quo. Seldom do they say, “But we’ve always done it this way.”
- Practical. A child always thinks about how something will directly affect him or her personally. They ask questions like, “What is this? What can I do with it? How does it affect me right now?”
I believe we should only hire and promote childlike people.
In fact, childlike people should never be confined just to the workplace. I always want to be surrounded by childlike family and friends whether I’m attending a social event, traveling on vacation or even attending church. Don’t forget that Jesus himself said (paraphrased), “Unless you become like a child, you will never reap life’s great rewards.