How many times as a kid did you hear, “no, you can’t do that,” “no that’s wrong”… no, no, no, no, no!
“Don’t look into Pandora’s box, children.”
“Curiosity killed the cat,” they said.
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Curiosity made the cat wiser and empowered.
Curiosity leads to exploration
Exploration inspires discovery
Discovery drives innovation
Innovation sustains relevance
“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” - Albert Einstein.
One of the many amazing things I learned during my 5 years working with Cirque du Soleil as an acrobat and team captain is the value of their sandbox approach to business and employee development. They are big kids at heart, building elevators with no ceilings, continually attempting to learn new ways. Their lens is wide-angled and made of the purest diamond that refracts light in all possible directions and beyond. A kaleidoscope of promise and optimism.
Your inner child is that wide-angled lens. Your inner child is your superpower. It’s the inner genius many forget to feed. Reconnect to that source and your imagination will indeed ‘take you everywhere,’ both at home and in the workplace.
Kids create amazing worlds in their malleable minds. Enchanted domains filled with friends, foes, and fearless fantasies, fueled by enthusiasm and inventiveness. With wings fully spanned, they are flying without a net to wondrous realms that adults have long forgotten and since abandoned. It’s a great shame that all these amazing, innocent possibilities become dulled in the murky quicksand of adulthood.
Society programs us to let go of that childlike spirit for the sake of becoming responsible adults. Letting go of your inner child stifles the imagination and the capacity to innovate. That superpower fades and withers at each time a child hears “no you can’t,” or “that’s not possible,” or “that’s silly” from jaded, narrow-minded adults. Unfortunately those same “no’s” echo in our boardroom meetings. Those same “no’s” infect our corporate cultures.
As executives, leaders or influencers reignite your inner child. Stimulate your own curiosity. Be the catalyst for innovation through your behavior approach and mindset. Invite and inspire your employees/people/tribe to be more curious, to question and disrupt the status quo. Be curious to know what they have to say. Be curious to see what they see. Be curious to know what they think. Be curious enough and care enough to listen and actually consider their ideas. As an added bonus, they will become more engaged, more productive and more efficient.
Empower them to explore within the confines of your cultural values, your SOP’s, established systems and your existing bureaucratic protocol. Challenge if not dare them to discover, share and create new, different and innovated strategies, services or products. Set them free to roam in ways that honor and respect your values.
Setting them free is not about opening a door to anarchy or chaos. The freedom I refer to still requires structure and process. But minimize the red tape. Streamline communication channels so that ideas can be shared, heard and debated with an open mind. The intent of ideas is to innovate. Be approachable and open-minded in your leadership style. Step back, get out of the way. Let your “kids” connect with their inner child so they can play, fall, scrape their knees and figure out how to turn lego blocks into unimagined business creations that separate you… your differentiator.
Imagination and the ability to innovate is not reserved for the elite or for famous innovators and theatrical geniuses within Cirque du Soleil, Amazon, Apple or other successful forward-thinking companies. It’s in all of us if are curious enough to explore and find out.
Sincerely, Vital Germaine (President of ENGAGE)
Read IMAGINATION WILL TAKE YOU EVERYWHERE and find out how you can inspire collaboration and drive a mindset of innovation within your culture.
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