I often find myself looking at children and thinking, ‘I wish I could be a child again!’
Of course, this thought usually stems out from observing a child’s unbound joy, carefree nature and absolute innocence, but if I think deeper there’s so much more to being like a child. Yes, I honestly believe that if we could all be a little more like children, we could be more successful adults.
Well, before I lay down 7 lessons we all learnt as children that we must apply to our adult-working lives, take a moment and go back and think about how we were as children .
Back then I couldn’t wait to grow up, and no don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being an adult and having responsibilities, and most importantly being able to make my decisions — but I have to be honest it gets overwhelming from time-to-time.
Children deal with all the emotions that we feel are a bane of adult life — confusion, stress, frustration, anger, sadness… the list goes on. The difference, however, is how children deal with these emotions, and their child-like approach to problem-solving. And that’s what I think makes all the difference!
Don’t agree with me yet? No worries, let me explain and I’m sure we’ll be on the same page.
Embrace the Child Within You and Re-ignite these 7 Lessons:
Whether you’re a child, a teenager, an adult, or even an experienced older person one must never stop learning. In fact, many great philosophers and scholars in their own ways have said that the day we stop learning is the day we stop growing, and being. Today, let’s learn how to embrace the child within us and re-ignite seven very basic but important lessons we learnt as children to be more successful today.
Being a marketing professional, I have found myself applying these lessons every time I’ve had to come up with a new idea, write a blog, create a campaign or even pitched an idea. Let’s jump right in!
- Make a Schedule for Better Time Management
Waking up early in the morning, wearing your school uniform and then following a set time-table for classes is probably one’s first lesson in making schedules and time management. As marketing professionals we often find ourselves crunching deadlines and handling multiple projects at the same time — go back to the good old time-table. Unfortunately, no one now makes it for us and this is a task that we must do on our own. Divide your time into slots and mark it down for specific tasks at hand.
For example, if on a given date I have to write a blog, have two meetings and I need to do some research for an upcoming project, I would block my calendar for these tasks. I usually set aside the first 2-3 hours to write, then take my meetings, and then block another 2-3 hours for my research. If I don’t do this I’m interrupted and distracted and find myself spending too much time with too little focus.
- Take a Break and Invest in Longer Sleep
Another challenge that comes because of lack of time management is no time to rest and rewind. There are days I’ve had my lunch at my work desk and nights I’ve burned the midnight oil pressed by deadlines. The result? Well, while I may have completed the task I’m left drained out, exhausted and far from feeling productive. Learn from children — schools schedule breaks, parents make sure their kids take a break and children themselves are great at slowing down when it gets too much.
Take a break as and when you need to. This helps you stay more focused, be more productive and churn out quality work. In fact, don’t shy away from slotting dedicated break times to maybe grab a cup of coffee, chat with a friend/colleague or even go for a short walk. And yes, do not compromise on your sleep — a long restful nap will set you up for success on the next day and you’ll be able to bring more to the table than a groggy sleep-deprived you.
- Explore New Skills, Talents & Creativity
I remember as a kid I didn’t quite understand why my parents insisted I take all kinds of classes, or why I had to try my hand at everything in school. Long story short, I’m grateful now. We all have skills and talents that are waiting to be discovered. I discovered my love for sports, reading and writing at a very young age. However, I learnt about my inclination towards home decor, cooking and organizing as an adult.
In fact, for a very long time, I was almost embarrassed that I didn’t have a very specific (or impressive!) answer to the question, ‘What are your hobbies?’ I knew I liked certain things but didn’t think of them as something I was skilled or talented at.
The point is you have to keep exploring new skills, talents and creativity within you. As a marketing professional it helps you get more ideas, learn new tricks and have an open mind to creating something compelling and creative. For example, say you’re a content marketing professional like me, you may want to explore social media or partner marketing channels to see if you like it, are good at it, or would want to learn more about it to diversify your portfolio.
- Peer Learning
Learning from your peers — that’s something children are amazing at but unfortunately, the older we grow, the lesser we rely on it. Our peers can be our greatest learning resource, if only we are open to it. No wonder productive brainstorming sessions are usually the starting point to some exceptional results.
Let me share a personal example to explain this better. I recently had to come up with a blog idea and I was struggling to be creative. In the meantime, my team member happened to write and publish a very interesting blog on How to Write Great Copy for Websites, Social Media, Blogs, Emails and More. It inspired me, and I reached out to her with some of my ideas and how I thought of doing a follow-up piece to her blog. She helped me streamline the flow and that turned into this piece I wrote, Part II – How to Write Great Content: Difference Between Copywriting and Content Writing. In fact, we had a productive longer conversation about the many parts we could create within this ‘how to write great content/copy’ series. We sure did learn off each other.
When you open yourself to learning from your opinions you’ll be able to make better and comprehensive decisions. Personally, I feel, it’s always a great idea to run by your ideas with a peer to get a second opinion and figure out gaps that could weaken the way forward.
- Learn Through Experiences
Our experiences are another rich resource we must continue learning from. Developed a marketing plan last quarter that didn’t fare too well? Learn from the mistakes you made, understand what could be done better, and turn it into a learning experience.
Look at children. You can tell them ten times not to touch a hot cup of tea but they’re more likely to remember it once they touch, and burn their hands — hard experiences of life! The same way you can come up with ideas, and detail theories of how a campaign could or must work. It’s only once you put it to test, face challenges or have roadblocks will the experience make you learn a better way to do it, or serve as a great learning experience for your future campaigns.
- Never Stop Asking Questions
Yes, that thing that kids do — what, why, how, when, where, but how, why… The never-ending questions! But imagine the child’s mind, trying so hard to get the right answers and understand something. Not getting the right answers can lead to all those ugly emotions we spoke about earlier and probably rob a valuable learning experience. Fortunately, kids don’t stop till they get the answers. Unfortunately, adults do!
If you don’t know something or understand something — Ask. You’re not expected to know everything and someone around you will know, or point you in the right direction. In fact, when in doubt, it’s better to ask questions, than make false assumptions, or worse, make up your own answers. Look at it this way. You’ve never handled paid content promotions and an upcoming campaign would need you to look into it. You have no idea what’s to be done, how it’s to be done or even the budget you can play with. What do you do? Instead of losing money and getting zero returns, it’s best to ask a senior or a team member with prior experience to help you set this up.
- Celebrate Every Win — Big n’ Small!
Appreciate yourself, revel in your success and rejoice every win. Have you ever noticed the pure joy on a child’s face every time they are able to do something? It could be something as significant as their first step, or as simple as being able to colour within the lines — they always celebrate it in their own ways.
Don’t stop doing that, you’re doing a great job.
Grow Up & Be Like a Child!
Yes, that may sound like an oxymoron but I’m talking about keeping all the lessons you learnt as a child close, and handy.
It’s great growing up and gathering all these wonderful years of experience, but it’s even better when we can simplify life and break it down with a child-like approach that just makes everything easier and joyous. You’ll enjoy your work more, you’ll feel your creative best, and you’ll always have the time to learn and grow.
Are we on the same page now? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all re-invent these childhood lessons to be successful professionals?
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