Why Growing Up Is A Bad Idea?

At times, we open our workshops with an interesting activity called the ESVP Check-in, wherein we invite participants’ to classify themselves basis their own engagement levels towards the program – at that point in time.

ESVP is an acronym we coined, for the 4 different types of attitudes we often come across:
•   Explorer – who is curious and willing to learn, embrace new insights/outsights
•   Sophisticate – who comes in with the, “I know it all”, “I’ve seen it all” attitude
•   Vacationer – who comes to just relax and have a good time; not really interested in any kind of learning.
•   Prisoner – the unfortunate bloke who got pushed (generally by HR/Leader) to attend the program and would     rather be someplace else!

Needless to say, we Facilitators find the going easier when we discover more Explorers amongst our participants, but yank out our hair in despair when we face one too many of the other three varieties – the Sophisticate, the Vacationer & the Prisoners!

We often wonder, why are the Explorers generally in such short supply?

campmaster-strauch-characterWalt Disney probably hit the nail on the head when he remarked – “that’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up

Walter should know -a visionary extraordinaire yet a child at heart, he truly believed in never “growing up” and successfully donned multiple hats as a cartoonist, animator, filmmaker, philanthropist as well as a business magnate.

So, is “growing up” really a problem?
Disney’s adaptation of the classic “Peter Pan” certainly seemed to express that opinion –“Don’t Grow up. It’s a Trap” –repeatedly admonished the lead protagonist Peter.

peter-pan-characterCome to think about it, why are we simply unable to hold onto the “child” within us, even as we physically grow older (and apparently wiser)?

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The probable solution lies in the catchy phrase Be Childlike – not Childish. Now this might look like a cheeky play of words, but we find this one principle demonstrated consistently across our various programs which use Power of Play as the core methodology,
• “Childlike” refers to the attributes of curiosity, happiness, innocence, openness, exploration, trust, fearless and most importantly, fun-loving.
• On the other hand, Childish behavior would generally indicate being grumpy, angry, suspicious, greedy, fearful, aggressive, protective and too defensive. (and yes, its no coincidence– the Sophisticate, Vacationer & Prisoner generally display these characteristics in abundance!)

So how do we go about awakening this dormant Childlike nature in a workshop scenario? This is where Energizers (commonly referred to as ice-breakers) help us– these apparently ‘silly’ activities help break down barriers amongst the maze of hierarchical structures within a corporate group. Participants feel more comfortable in their skin and stop worrying about “looking good”. This in turn, allows their suppressed Child to get out and start playing –and this is exactly where the ‘Explorer’ comes out and contributes to his fullest measure.

Interestingly, (for the spiritually inclined) the Srimad Bhagvatham talks of how the Avadhuta (wandering ascetic) draws inspiration from 24 Gurus of Nature and one such honoured Guru is (you guessed it right!) – A Child –the Child as a Guru has been described as one who :
a)   Does not care for honour or insult.
b)   Lives in the moment and enjoys the journey.
c)   Is free from worries and immersed in joy.

So when was the last time you were Childlike, not Childish? And as a Leader, how do you encourage more Childlike behaviour amongst your team members? Do share your thoughts and (just in case you missed it) —“Don’t Grow Up. It’s a Trap”  🙂

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