Taking advice from children
By Michael Kline
To whom do you turn when you need advice? Usually, it depends on the subject matter. We rely on friends, family, financial advisors, doctors, nurse, accountants, attorneys, hairdressers, clergy, therapists, teachers, business consultants, parents, Google, tealeaves, horoscopes and fortune tellers. In making a point with new clients, I sometimes ask if they would turn to an 8 year old child for financial, career or relationship advice. They always say “no, of course not”. Ask yourself the same question now just to make sure we agree.
Once in a while, someone will point out that there is wisdom to be gained from children, and they are correct. Most of us would benefit from approaching many issues in our life more child-like; we often benefit from being curious, playful, honest and fearless; all traits a child or even a pet can teach us. We probably agree that most children are ill-equipped to contribute very deeply on life’s bigger issues, when specific knowledge or wisdom is required.
Yet, I would suggest, as seemingly silly as it sounds, we adults tend to do just the opposite of what makes any sense. We tend not to go to children as we should, to be reminded of the value of being curious, playful, honest and fearless. We do tend to go to a child for serious advice on finances, career decisions and relationships. How we do that, is by making decisions based on our pattern of behavior we established when we were children ourselves. We turn to our inner 8 year old, by relying on our beliefs about how the world works, what is emotionally or even physically safe to do, what our capabilities are, what our limits are, all based on decisions we made when we were children! When we were between 5 and 10 years old, a vast amount of learning took place in our brains and bodies. At certain experience points, we made decisions about things like power, money, men, women, speaking, being quiet, hiding, being in control, taking chances or not, being attractive or not, expressing ourselves or not, defending ourselves or not, sharing our big dreams or not, trying new things, risking success or failure, comparing ourselves to others and more. I think you get the picture. Chances are, one or more of these issues struck a chord with you. If, in the 5th grade you remember the day at the chalkboard, trembling and embarrassed at not being able to finish the problem on the chalk board, as your friends laughed from their seats. You may have made the decision or even the declaration that you are terrible at math. You would have repeated the declaration as your mantra through school and into adulthood – I stink at math! You still say it at work, frequently. Is it possible that your brain continued developing, as they do, well beyond age 10 and that at any point along the way you could have become comfortable with math? Has this belief limited you in any way? Has it kept you from making friends with other students you saw as “the smart kids”? Did it keep you from attempting job promotions or projects that require math skills? Has it lowered your self-esteem over the years? I know students who carried this belief, and I certainly have had employees who use the anti-math mantra to this day, and may people I have not hired because of this belief. Now apply a similar situation to the belief that makes you most uncomfortable – I can’t speak in public, I’m too shy, I don’t like crowds, I can’t sit still, I have to always be moving, talking, or doing something, I just have bad luck, I never win anything, nobody cares what I think, why don’t people have common sense (which really means why don’t people agree with me), I prefer computers over people, or I’m no good with technology, everything I eat goes straight to my hips, men/women just don’t find me attractive, I’m too short, tall, fat, or skinny, I don’t have enough education, I’m not smart enough, experienced enough, or credentialed enough, etc. At what point did you make the decision that your chosen statement is true? You might say it is not just my belief, it’s actually true! Understand that all our beliefs are true to us, or they wouldn’t be our belief, but that does not make it true outside of our own perception. And it does not make it true for the future, even if it appeared to be true in the past.
Today, we have the ability to go back to the time and place where we made these decisions and create a different experience. Like going back in time and redoing the past event, or getting a child-like do-over on how we felt about it and what decisions we made about it. If we can change the “trigger” that causes our undesirable responses and beliefs, everything changes. If you have anything in your life or your business that you would like to be different, you owe it to yourself to see how you could be different. Ask yourself what is stopping you from making the changes.
Michael Kline is a Certified RIM Facilitator and Certified Success Trainer for personal and group transformation. You can reach him through his website www.intus.life, or e-mail, email@example.com.