With a new approach to life several new friends, who I admire immensely, have remarked that I am like a child.
I think they meant this in an approving way – in fact I know they did – but the concept of what this might mean in our lives and in business is worth exploring.
Recently I have found a huge level of enthusiasm for a wide range of new or revisited interests. These have given me great pleasure – cycling, creative writing, watching dance, photography – all have become significant parts of my life and have led to me meeting new friends.
Yet these cost almost nothing – apart from the initial equipment like a camera – and I could have taken them up anytime – but I didn’t. I just kept doing the same things, day after day. For more than a decade. Why did I not realize that this had happened to me? That I had become stuck in a comfort zone, not pushing myself forward. I had become fat and lazy.
Is it that we are scared of change – terrified of failure? In my case I don’t honestly think so, I was just doing the same thing again and again because it was comfortable, it was easy.
I wonder if we also do this at times in our business lives. We carry on playing in the same competitive spaces, with the same staff instead of pushing the boundaries and trying new things with that playful sense of discovery. Business models and modus operandi take over – improvements at the margins becomes the limit of our expectations.
Just as it was in my personal life I believe that experimenting and being child-like is not actually a costly exercise for a business They certainly do have resources available to be innovative and challenge the fundamental nature of themselves – but few actually do. Nor does it carry excess risk – the amount of play time can be controlled so as to keep the company in business until the benefit is proven – as Google famously does with their one day a week of personal project time.
Some companies famously do embrace play and experimentation as part of their culture – but they are few and far between.
My new friends are right – a personal shock actually provided all the impetus to get out and enjoy so much of the world – playing, traveling, experimenting and pushing the boundaries in order to learn and discover myself – in exactly the same way a child does. Long may it continue.