Whom do you turn to for inspiration

Last week I was at an in-house event wherein we had children showcase their STEM projects. It was mesmerising to see the innovation and creativity displayed by children. These were students from either government or semi-government schools in tier-II cities. What stood out was their passion and confidence. Whenever a guest moved towards to their respective displayed project, the students in-charge were ready to take the guest through the whole journey of their thought process that had resulted in that particular innovation. Their energy was so palpable and infectious!

Our day-to-day work can quickly become boring. Any routine has the propensity of killing creativity. Growth, however, happens only through new ways of doing old things or simply, doing new things. We seek inspiration from various situations and challenges. We also turn to our mentors and/or role models for insights and ideas.

Interacting with children made me ponder – what if we were to seek our inspiration from them?

Here are some unique skills that we can relearn from children:

#Observe

Children by nature are curious. They are not afraid to ask questions. But before curiosity comes observation. Children keep their eyes and ears open. They observe and sense a lot more than adults do. And because they observe, they become curious.

As adults, we dull our observation. We mask it with ‘I know all about this’ syndrome. We think we hold all the knowledge that is required for that particular task/subject. So, we stop asking questions.

The simplest way to hone the power of observation is to look around and be still as you let your senses be overwhelmed by the sounds and smells of what you see. When was the last you observed your environment intently while waiting for your flight/train to arrive? Do you recall what was most striking for you in that moment? Or is everything a haze? If it is, then you have not observed well.

#Question

Have you ever got irritated sitting next to a child who keeps asking questions during the whole journey? It is her/his curiosity that makes the child question just about everything. The constant rebuking, they get for asking too many questions stumps children from questioning as they grow older.

When we join a new professional career, we can benefit a lot by asking questions. But often, the management expects a 90-day plan right in the beginning! There is no way one can draw this up without getting to know the organisation, without asking questions, and without being curious. When in doubt, ask!

#Listen

When was the last you paid attention to something without getting distracted by your mobile phone? Digital distractions are taking away our ability to listen. Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson in their research ‘The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success’ found that ‘the mere possibility that one’s phone may ring diminishes a person’s cognition skills up to 20 percent.’

Children on the other hand, are better listeners. Their brains are less developed and that helps them focus on one thing at a time. In an experiment wherein the class teacher was made to pause what she/he was teaching, and the children asked to describe what was being taught, it was found that 90 percent of first- and second graders gave the right answer. The results went down with older children. The older one grows; the brain gets more occupied with different things to focus on. That is when the listening ability diminishes.

When stuck in our careers, maybe it is time to go back to being a child all over again. Or just be with children. Observe. Question. Listen.


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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