What children can teach us
I have recently come back from a lovely relaxing week in Spain (for the half term break). Whilst I was there I had a lot of time to think about things and watch how confident my 4 year old daughter has become. She was happily running off during the evening to join in the games at the kids club and was happily chatting to everyone – some of them were even brought over and introduced to us!
Then I had a bit of a ‘moment’ whilst me and my husband were watching her on the bouncy castle. She was merrily bouncing away and making even more friends and her smile was getting wider and wider. She would occasionally glance over at us, just to check we were still watching her (but not that often as she was lost in the moment of play). We watched her playing and talking to all the other children on there. Then when she’d bounced enough she came over to us hand-in-hand with another little girl. She wanted to introduce her to us, they were both smiling, but it soon became obvious that the new friend didn’t speak English. Yet, nothing stopped them playing games together – they needed one common language, the language of play. They could fully interact and have fun together without the need for shared words.
This was such a lovely moment both for us as parents, but also a powerful one for me as a professional – when did we stop learning how to interact with each other? When did we start to question the best way to communicate with someone we didn’t know? When did we start to give up if it was too hard?
My husband actually looked at me and said ‘why can’t life be as simple as having fun on a bouncy castle’. I totally agreed with him as well – why isn’t it this simple? Or is it this simple yet we over complicate it?
I have realised I have a lot to learn from my daughter, and I need to make the time to listen and observe her so I can continue to learn from her. She can teach us about how to make a better and more fun world for ourselves (as can many other children), we just need to recognise this.
When we think about culture at work, we often start trying to map things out and diversity and inclusion becomes a key factor to consider and document. Now whilst I agree that this is very important, wouldn’t a true culture reflect this anyway? My daughter didn’t reach out to find someone that didn’t speak English so she could actively include them in her new friendship group – in fact the opposite happened…they were playing a similar game in the same space, so they joined up together to share in the fun. Isn’t that just what a real culture at work should be – joining together to help each other (and not for the reward but for the smiles)?
Let’s all go out and create our own ‘bouncy castle culture’ – let’s all bounce, have fun, meet new people, collaborate and enjoy!