Sunday, July 24, 2016

Do I Contradict Myself?

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

This excerpt, from the poem Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, opens up a vast thought for me about potential, about possibility.

For instance, we are taught that contradiction is bad. "Don't contradict me, young man." Or "You are contradicting yourself."
So what?

What if both positions are possible? What if both positions are right?
What if ambiguity is a path to wisdom?

I'm coming to the thought that we contain so much more than we know. It's a thought that runs counter to our socialization. We are taught to think of ourselves as units. We break things down, diagram things, and put things into boxes.
We are taught binary thinking.  On or Off. Black or White. In or Out.
We tend to think in terms of limits, in terms of scarcity.

What if we actually had no limit, no edges, no top, no bottom, no sides?

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” - Bruce Lee

Terrence Seamon helps his clients expand their thinking to move toward their goals. Follow Terry at twitter @tseamon, and on facebook Facilitation Solutions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Angel in the Marble

What do you see? Not right in front of you. But what do you see in terms of possibilities?
"I imagined the angel in the marble and I carved it until I set him free" -  Michaelangelo
There is a power within all of us that goes unnoticed and underutilized by most of us, much to our detriment.
I'm speaking of the Imagination.
We all have imagination. It comes with the package, so to speak. As children, we are incredibly imaginative, concocting stories, weaving fantastic voyages, pretending and play-acting like wee little Shakespeares!
What becomes of our imagination as we grow up?
Some hold on to it. Poets, artists, composers, dreamers.
Consider the quote above, attributed to the great artist Michaelangelo. That he could look at a raw hunk of marble, and "see" the potential for an angel within it, is testimony to the faculty we possess called imagination.
Imagination is a power we all possess. It's our ability to see what is not there, but could be.
It is the well-spring of all creativity and innovation. It is the source of all things new.
Terrence Seamon writes from his imagination. Follow him on twitter @tseamon, and on facebook Facilitation Solutions.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

What's Stopping You?

"The first step toward getting somewhere is deciding you are not going to stay where you are."
After thirty years of living at one address, we are moving. As you might imagine, you accumulate a lot of stuff in thirty years.The  house is filled with boxes, holding dishes, photo albums, books, holiday ornaments, and much more, all awaiting the moving men.
So far, it has been a quite a journey. We have made more trips to Good Will than I can count!
Thanks to craigslist and freecycle, we have given away furniture, toys, books, chimes, and all sorts of home goods.
Thanks to family and friends we have stashed artwork in cellars and Christmas decorations in basements. We have entrusted precious family heirlooms, like the Cop Bear, to one of my brothers.
As we have burrowed into our own personal archaeological dig, we have unearthed treasures of our past, such as my father's box of personal effects including a talisman from Italy that he brought home from the war.
As exciting as the prospect of moving to a new place is, this has also been an incredibly stressful time.
Many is the time during these past few months that we have felt exhausted by the daily tasks of sorting, bagging, boxing, and disposing of the stuff of thirty years. There were times when we asked ourselves, Why? Why are we doing this? Why don't we just pull the plug and go back to the way things were?
The more stuff, the harder the move.
This process seems to me to be a good metaphor for personal growth and change.
It can be hard to start. It can be hard to push on and push through. You may feel like you've made a mistake. You may be tempted to throw in the towel.
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
I'm learning some lessons as a result of our decision to move.
Deciding to move is deciding to change.
Terrence Seamon coaches his clients through change. Follow him on twitter @tseamon, and on facebook Facilitation Solutions.

Monday, July 11, 2016

There is NO substitute for experience

I've noticed that organizational change practitioners really really really want to learn!
That's good. Because managing organizational change is NOT for amateurs.
"When it comes to managing organizational change,  there is no substitute for experiential learning." - Dr. E.J. Sarma
There is much to know about organizational change. There are theories (e.g. Kurt Lewin's force field analysis) and models (e.g. John Kotter's eight steps). There is research (e.g. Argyris) and best practices (e.g. Prosci).
But as good as they are, that is all in the head.
I have said in the past that the most important credential for anyone practicing in this arena is that they MUST have direct and personal experience of organizational change.
Otherwise how could they possibly know what people are going through?
Having gone through a major change in an organization (e.g. a merger, an acquisition, a downsizing), the practitioner will know it in her gut and in her heart.
With such a personalized and internalized knowing, the truly experienced organizational change and development practitioner will be ready and able to guide others through the skerries of change.
Terrence Seamon is a seasoned organizational change and development practitioner. Follow him on twitter @tseamon, and on facebook Facilitation Solutions.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Way to Build a Better Company

On LinkedIn, consultant Jeffrey Deckman wrote:
"The only way to build a better company is to invest in building a more capable workforce." 
To which I said, Amen!  A company is its people.
Deckman's statement leads to a question:  In today's companies, what are the key capabilities needed in the workforce?
One of those key capabilities, in my view, is leadership. Leadership is not about level or title. It's about the capability an organization needs to mobilize energy in the desired direction toward success.
Breaking this capability down into components, here are some of the most vital aspects of leadership.
Character - Many thinkers, from Plato to Stephen Covey, have tried to distill the qualities of a leader. The key qualities, in my mind, are those that are most related to demonstrating leadership in an organization. Qualities like focus, being proactive, vision, commitment, respect, and caring. There are many more, I am sure. Character is vital to leadership because it points to what is inside the person that "shines" out of them in their interactions with others.
Communication - If you are not communicating, you are not leading. It's as simple as that. Communication is the oxygen in an organization. Leaders maintain a lively exchange of information and ideas with others around them in the organization. The communication is open, free flowing, and direct. Leaders are approachable.
Conflict & Creativity - Any time people come together in an organization there will be clashes. Conflict therefore is natural and emerges from our differences. Leaders recognize this and develop ways to handle disagreements in a healthy way. Leaders also develop creative approaches to resolving issues and problems so that the team gets stronger and smarter through the process. 
Collaboration - Leaders facilitate teamwork by bringing people together around common goals. When collaboration and cooperation are established, leaders can unleash the power of diversity and synergy in the organization, where "great minds" can apply their energy to vexing problems and achieve breakthroughs.
Coaching & Change - Leaders build the capabilities of others. That's what coaching means. Strengthening others so they can perform at their best. And during times of organizational change, when people are stressed, this coaching capability is greatly needed to help people navigate the uncertain waters of change.
Culture - Leaders impact the culture of the organization because the culture is a reflection of the choices ("how we do things here") they make each and every day. Mindful of this dynamic, leaders can "lead by example" and take good care of the culture being created for the company.
The way to build a better company?  Build the leadership capability of the workforce.
Terrence Seamon builds leadership and team capability. Follow him on twitter @tseamon, and facebook Facilitation Solutions.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Culture Change by Design

Many are thinking about changing their organization's culture to make it more innovative, more customer focused, even more healthy. All good goals, in my view.

But can you really change the culture? Experts on corporate culture have differing views.

Where does culture come from?  The culture of an organization is the way it is due to the history of the company, stretching back into the past. Culture is a reflection of the founders and past leaders, decisions that were made in the face of early obstacles, and practices that became "the way we do things here." 

The way a culture is now is because of the way things have been done. 

To change the culture therefore requires changing the deep structures that underpin the present behaviors. This is a significant undertaking. There is no quick fix. No fast transformation.

I am reminded of a culture change project from 2011 that made headlines in the media.  Back in 2011, Lowell McAdam, the newly named CEO of Verizon Communications, announced: "We will definitely try to bring that entrepreneurial culture from the wireless side into the wireline side." Why? McAdam had come over to Verizon after a highly successful run as the head of Verizon Wireless. He said that Verizon must adopt a more "entrepreneurial culture" in its shrinking land-line business.

That was truly a Big Scale Culture Change Project: How to bring the entrepreneurial culture from the wireless business into the wireline side of Verizon Communications, to counter its shrinking business prospects.

How did he plan to pull this off? Reading further in the news articles, some of McAdam's ideas for changing the culture included...

Spreading the Credo: Like many other companies, Verizon Wireless has a set of values. They call it their Credo (as does Johnson and Johnson). The word Customer is mentioned over and over. And most interesting is the final section about Bigness:

"Bureaucracy is an enemy. We fight every day to stay small and keep bureaucracy out. We are more agile than companies a fraction of our size, because we act fast and take risks every day. We see crisis and change as opportunities, not threats. We run to a crisis, not away. Change energizes us. We work hard, take action and get things done. Our actions produce measurable results."

Impressive words. But the proof is on the front-line.

Working with the Unions: A phone company like Verizon deploys thousands of front-line workers each and every day. The culture change initiative must touch the hearts of these people or it won't take hold.

Developing New Products and Services: With new competitors nibbling away at the old phone business, Verizon must think differently and innovate. The way to think differently is get different people thinking together.

If McAdam had asked me what else he should consider, I'd have offered the following...

Lead the Change: This is now a top priority for all the leaders of the organization. Who are the leaders? Potentially, anyone. Leaders can come from anywhere in an organization. Expand your thinking about leadership and develop leaders at all levels. Leaders are the catalyst for change.

Share the Vision:  What is the change? What do we desire to become? What is possible? What will it take to get there? What will it be like when we have reached the New Beginning? Can we let go of the Old Way?

Clarify the Challenge: Make it abundantly clear that the stakes are high and that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Jack Welch once said it very well: Change before you have to.

Communicate!   Effective communication is open, two-way, and direct. To build trust during times of significant change, communication must be constant.

Engage the Entire Organization: Make it very clear that everyone has a part to play in moving the culture and transforming the way Verizon does business. Invite everyone to contribute. Make it "safe to say" whatever is on their mind. Listen and learn. Implement as much as possible.

Change the Conversations: Get different people involved. Change the conversation by changing who is around the table. Capitalize on diversity.

Engage the Customer: Invite the customer to the table. Seek their input. Listen, learn, and improve.

Changing the culture of an organization is a massive undertaking. But it is possible.

The members of the organization have to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask themselves "Can we change?" 

To change the culture of an organization, you have got to engage everyone. Everyone must be included. Somehow everyone has to have their say...and be heard.

With commitment, communication, coaching, customer-focus, and confidence, it can start tomorrow.

Terrence Seamon is fascinated by culture and culture change. Follow him on twitter @tseamon. Learn more about him on facebook at Facilitation Solutions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Crazy Good

Recently in conversation with a manager at a client company, I asked about the big changes going on, including the acquisition of another company.

She said,"It's good. Crazy good."

What's good is the growth that they will experience with this acquisition.

What's "crazy" is the overwhelming amount of change they are trying to absorb.

Her choice of words, "crazy," was an apt term. If you're not careful, huge levels of organizational change can have negative side effects.

I seized the moment to tell her about VUCA, that is, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and uncertainty.

She nodded after each concept and said at the end, "Yep. That's what we are going through."

What does it take to stay resilient in such a hi-change environment? Here are four things to think about.

  • In highly volatile situations, people will feel endangered and scared. This type of change means stress. And stress can lead to illness.  Whatever you can do to reassure people and create islands of stability may help lessen the fear that often accompanies such change.
  • In uncertain environments, predictability drops, and surprises rise. In such a climate, planning, organizing, and adaptability take on a critical importance for managers and their teams.
  • In high complexity environments, confusion and chaos become the norm. Many of the problems that teams face will have no obvious "low hanging fruit" solutions that they can quickly implement. Instead, managers and their teams need to learn new ways to think critically and creatively to solve the dilemmas they face.
  • In the midst of ambiguity, where there may be multiple meanings of events, a team needs the mental ability to maintain their "line of sight" toward their objective. Having a clear and compelling sense of purpose ('Where can I do the most good for the business right now?') helps to laser focus on the most pressing priorities. 

Operating in a "good crazy" environment of change is not easy. People may feel like things are "out of control." By recognizing it for what it is, leaders can bring the energy and thinking needed to help their teams weather the storming.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on June 29,  2016. Looking for more ideas on how to manage change? Terry Seamon is an Organization Development consultant with Facilitation Solutions, a training and organization effectiveness practice based in New Jersey. He has designed and delivered training for his clients on leadership, coaching, engagement, managing, communication, customer service, conflict, stress, teamwork, and change, and has written extensively on these and many other topics. Invite Terry to your organization to speak with your teams. Call today and discover how Terry can help you achieve your goals: 732-246-3014.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Culture: By Default or By Design?

Every organization has a culture. But not every organization designs their culture.

How does Culture get to be what it is? From my research and experience, I'd say that culture can be by default (it just is) or culture can be by design (it is what we want it to be). 

A favorite example of a culture by design is that of Southwest Airlines, one that has been well researched over the years and written about extensively. Their story clearly depicts the influence of the early leaders, choices they made, obstacles they faced, and the first successes they had, all of which laid the foundation for what came later. 

For a small glimpse of the Southwest culture, here is a video of former CEO and founder Herb Kelleher and one of the flight attendants.

Clearly culture means a great deal to Southwest Airlines.

It reminds me of a company I worked for in the 1990's. Our CEO 'Bob' used to talk to Wall Street audiences about the "secret weapon" that we possessed, namely our culture. Like Kelleher's point about the competitive advantage that culture provides, Bob used to say that "Our people, and how we work together in teams to serve our customers, these are the secrets to our success."

Thinking about that company, I once wrote about the "secret recipe" that it developed and followed:

R = Results Focus: Everyone in the Company, from the CEO to the front-line, is focused on delivering results each and every day. That's why they come to work.

E = Engaged Employees: Engaged employees are "fans of the brand." They believe in the Company and they are willing to do whatever it takes to deliver high quality results to your customers.

C = Customer Focus: Your Customer is at the center of everything you do. They are The Reason you are in business. As Peter Drucker once said "The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer."

I = Innovative: Your culture is change-ready and always on the lookout for bright ideas that can keep you ahead of your competition. "Good enough" is not.

P = Purposeful: You are driven by your Mission, your Vision of the future, and your Values that you hold dear.

E = Engaged Employees: You are obsessed with talent. Talented people and teams are the key to growing the business. Where do you get engaged employees? You hire them.

Did you notice that Employee Engagement showed up twice in the secret sauce? That's because it is THE KEY ingredient. Your people are your most important asset.

Shake that ingredient in twice.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on June 26, 2016. Looking for more ideas on how culture can be designed to help your business succeed? Terry Seamon is an Organization Development consultant with Facilitation Solutions, a training and organization effectiveness practice based in New Jersey. He has designed and delivered training for his clients on leadership, coaching, engagement, managing, communication, customer service, conflict, stress, teamwork, and change, and has written extensively on these and many other topics. Invite Terry to your organization to speak with your teams. Call today and discover how Terry can help you achieve your goals: 732-246-3014.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Partnering - A Key to Success

For decades now, the Human Resources field has been implementing a concept, first introduced by guru Dave Ulrich, called the "business partner" role.
It was, and still is, a brilliant idea. And one that many other professionals would do well to adapt.
What is a business partner then? Using HR as a model, a business partner works closely with her client (e.g. R&D or Operations), getting to know the client's business intimately, advising her client on specific issues (e.g. talent acquisition or talent retention) related to her areas of expertise, and helping her client to achieve success.
Imagine transferring that concept to other areas such as EHS, IT, Project Management, Communications, Change Management, Learning & Development, and Quality, for example. Specialists in these areas have much to offer and desire a "seat at the table" with their clients in order to contribute meaningfully.
The idea of partnering is key. Here are several component aspects of partnering to assess yourself against and to develop in your area of the business:
Value proposition - What is it exactly that you are offering to your clients? Do they know what it is? Do they feel the need for it? Do they understand it?
Expectations - What do they expect of you? Do you know?
Business acumen - Learning to grasp and speak the language of business is essential to build credibility with the leaders of your business.
Relationships - Building trust with your clients will open doors and minds to your ideas and solutions.
Be "easy to do business with" - Reducing any obstacles and barriers that the client experiences in working with you will go a long way toward facilitating the working relationship you desire. 
Deliver - At the end of the day, accountability (keeping your commitments) and execution (getting it done) are the final litmus tests that your clients will use to judge you. 
Improve continually - Provide ways for your client to provide feedback. To complain. To be heard. And make sure you demonstrate that you are listening and taking their input to heart.
Go the extra mile - Keep on asking yourself, Am I doing enough? Have I differentiated the services I provide? Is there something else that my client would value?
Think ahead - The legendary hockey star Wayne Gretzky once said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." Are you anticipating your client's needs and moving in that direction proactively?
To net it out, all of the partnering components above can be summed up in the word consulting. As a business partner, you are a consultant to your client.
Your job, in a nutshell, is to help them achieve their goals.
Terrence Seamon is a Learning & Organization Development consultant. Follow him on twitter @tseamon. Learn more about his work at Facilitation Solutions on facebook.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Free Webinar June 22 - Leading Teams thru Change with Terrence Seamon

Free Webinar from Rutgers Executive & Professional Education: 

Leading Teams Through Change - June 22nd at Noon EST

In today's complex business environment, the ability of leaders to guide their teams through change is becoming one of the most critical skills. Join Rutgers EPE for a 30 minute webinar on June 22nd EST where we will explore the leader's role as catalyst, communicator, and coach in the midst of change.

In this webinar you will learn why organizational change is so difficult; recognize the leader's role in driving change; and understand the importance of coaching to help others through change.

SpeakerTerrence "Terry" Seamon is a Learning and Organization Development professional whose interests and strengths include: training and organization development, coaching and facilitation; leadership and management development; and change and transition.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Winning Attitude

What do you think drives your Life?
Many people have a "Sh#t Happens" view of their Life. They view the happenings in their Life as consequences of external forces (i.e. the Sh#t).
I have long been a believer in a different point of view. I got it from my mother who used to say "Life is what you make it."
It's a view of Life that believes in the power of the mind. A view that says that our purpose, attitude, and intention are the things that make the difference. That these are the major determinants of what happens in our lives.

"Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change." - Jim Rohn

Recently I was working with a client on ways to develop a winning attitude that could be spread throughout their organizational culture. A tall order, no?
So we started with their Mission, Vision, and Values. And we spent a number of hours on what those words were really saying about the kind of company they implied. We discussed how the attendees could personally connect to these aspirations. And own them. And live them.
Years ago, I attended a management seminar on leadership and change. We had just been acquired by another company. The instructors were consultants, hired by the new owners, charged to shake us and wake us up to the new realities of being acquired.

They were provoking us to think about the results we want to obtain in life. They were pushing us to think about who really determines the outcomes that we get in life, both at work and at home.

If life is truly what YOU make of it, then very few external things really influence your life. A tsunami, for example, can overwhelmingly influence your life. You don't have any say-so in the face of a tidal wave.

Outside of uncontrollable things like that, the major influence on your life is You. Your attitude. Your actions. You control 99% of what happens. Or doesn't happen.

"Assuming it can't be done, limits what can be done" is quite true.

In his autobiographical book Flying Without Wings by Arnold R. Beisser (published in 1989 by Doubleday), I read about a great example of the power of a winning mindset. Beisser was a champion tennis player who became a quadraplegic at age 25. Despite the catastrophic misfortune that befell him, Beisser went on to a successful career as a clinical professor of psychiatry, as well as a consultant and noted author.

His story is about choice and personal power. As he struggled with the awful truth that he had lost everything that he had most valued, he finally realized that he still had life. And he still had a future. And that he could still choose.

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." - Henry Ford
What do you think?
Terrence Seamon helps his clients develop the winning attitude they need to be successful. Follow him on twitter @tseamon. Learn more about him on facebook at Facilitation Solutions.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The 4 A's of High Performing Teams

Looking to improve the effectiveness of the teams in your organization? Start here with the 4 A's.

Alignment - How unified are your teams? Are they "on the same sheet of music, singing the same song?" Are they operating upon a common mission, with shared goals?

Accountability - How reliable, responsible, and trusted are your teams? Can they be counted on when the heat is on? Do your teams operate with integrity? Do they treat one another with respect?

Adaptability - How well are your teams handling change? Are they bouncing back with resilience? Are you making sure that your teams have enough energy to give their best effort? Are you all improving and learning continuously?

Action Oriented - Do your teams have a bias toward action? Are they fast moving? Are they able to do what needs to be done to serve their customers and deliver on results? Do they get it done?

Terrence Seamon helps leaders to build strong teams. Follow him on twitter @tseamon. To learn more about his work visit Facilitation Solutions on facebook.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

3 Roles for Leaders of Change

If you are in a leadership role --and that means anyone in the organization who has the ability to influence others-- then you will have the opportunity to make a real difference during times of change.
Here are three of the roles you may play.
Catalyst - Periods of organizational change may seem crazy at times, like a runaway wagon headed for a cliff. Some may perceive the change this way because they are feeling like leaves caught in a flood, like it's totally outside their control. You can help in this regard by being a catalyst and teaching it to others.
Being a catalyst for change means recognizing that You are a part of it, not outside of it. Not a helpless victim of it.
When you are a catalyst for change, you take responsibility of it, for some part of it. You hold yourself accountable for the part, however small, you can play in making it happen.
The catalyst for change says "If it is to be, it is up to me." And then asks, How can I help make this change successful?
Communicator - Periods of organizational change can seem chaotic, confusing, and uncertain. When people feel "in the dark," their anxiety may increase. The "rumor mill" can go into over-drive as people participate in passing around the bits and pieces they are picking up through the grapevine.
The problem with such informal back-channel communicating is that it can cause misunderstandings of the situation, magnifying tiny details into imagined catastrophes, and causing a whole lot of unnecessary misinterpretation of what is happening.
Being a communicator for change means being accessible, keeping your door open. It means being as transparent as possible. It means over-communicating as needed so that your teams can stay focused on what matters most (i.e., serving customers and accomplishing results)  during the waves of change.
Trust depends upon being an open communicator during change!
Coach - Organizational changes often feel very uncomfortable because they sweep away what was familiar (the Old Way) and usher in the strange and unfamiliar (the New Way). The Old Way meant competence and confidence. Not so with the New Way. It's not unusual for organizational change to bring with it new tasks, new roles, and new ways to work.
Being a coach for change therefore becomes a critical leadership role! Coaches help their teams through change by building skills and confidence.
Though organizational change is often "change for the better," it can also seem scary to employees who feel threatened by it.
Being a coach can help establish the sense of safety and self-assurance that comes from carefully rebuilding competence.
Terrence Seamon, author of Lead the Way,  is a champion for change. Follow him on twitter @tseamon.
This post will be expanded upon in a free webinar coming up soon:  Leading Teams through Change on June 22, sponsored by Rutgers Executive and Professional Education

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Life is What You Write It

For as long as I can remember, I've always been writing. From comic strips when I was a child, to blog posts now as a professional, writing is one of the things I just  do.

My mother had a saying, "Life is what you make it." I've carried that with me all these years.
I also realized that, for me, Life is what you write it. 
Author Maxine Hong Kingston wrote:  "I have no idea how people who don't write endure their lives."
That's an interesting statement, suggesting that writing is a basic coping mechanism, a way to meet life as it comes.  Writing is a way to encounter and make sense of life.
American writer Henry Miller wrote:  "Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The writer takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself."
I like that. Often when I write, I have no idea what I am going to say. Or where I will end up. Writing really is a process of discovery.
Professor of art education Viktor Lowenfeld declared:  "It is most important that" each person "formulate his own thoughts, not what is important to anyone else, but what is significant to him so that he may confront himself with his own world of experiences."
Or in other words, How can I know what I mean, until I see what I say?
With heart, mind, and pen poised
in the charged air
above the blank paper,
anything can happen.
The writer must be wary, vigilant, hopeful, armed.
This is the first in a series on writing and creativity by Terrence Seamon. Follow him on twitter @tseamon

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

For Creative Innovation, Get Some Kids

Our socialization teaches us that failure is bad. Something to be ashamed of. But is wasn't that way in the beginning.
When we were toddlers, failure never got in the way. We just kept trying over and over and over until we reached our objective. And the grown-ups observing us cheered us on!
Sadly, that non-judgmental era comes to an end as our parents, then our teachers, start to teach us "right from wrong."
Slowly but inexorably the wildly playful child withdraws, retreating within, becoming the submerged inner child.
The good news however, is that your Inner Child is still there and still accessible...if you will take the time to find him or her.
Silly - "Don't be silly," adults said to us at some point, probably when they were growing tired of our boundless capacity to act like little clowns. Being silly can be a starting point toward accessing our inner wellspring of creativity. 
Playful - "Let's play" is the mantra of kids all over the world. The eminent Swiss child development expert Jean Piaget spent a lifetime studying children at play. He even dubbed mankind as Homo Ludens, man the playing animal. Later in life we learn about "playing by the rules," but way back when, when we were little, play was freewheeling. One thing could lead to another. Before you know it, you went from playing soldier, to being an astronaut on Mars.
Games - Often the structure of play would be games. From Hide & Seek to Red Light, games are fun, fast-paced, even thrilling exercises that produce laughter and burn off calories. Talk about stress relief! Fortunately, our love of games is not extinguished by socialization. 
Stories - At other times, the structure of play would be stories. "Tell me a story," is a plea uttered by children since time began. Stories have the magical ability to switch on the Imagination and thereby transport us to a different Reality of conjured realms. 
Imagination - "Imagine that!" we exclaim as we listen to a breathless child tell us about their wild ideas. Imagination is something we all have. It comes with the package, so to speak. It's built in. We use it all the time when we are kids, but it gets seriously dampened by socialization. 
I recently had the opportunity to work with a client organization on the topics of Creativity and Innovation. Over the course of the day, we explored ways to reclaim the Inner Child and harness its fearless energy. 
We did an ice breaker exercise where participants selected a noun that started with the same letter as their last name. So someone named Smith might select Shell or Song.  Then they mingled around the room, matching their words with other words to form unusual, interesting or odd combinations like Shell Dog or Water Egg or Cake Hat. Later in the day, they worked in teams to turn their word combinations into new product ideas. The crazy and wonderful products they cooked up were a joy to behold!
It made us all feel like kids again!
Terrence Seamon loves to help his clients to think outside the lines and get creative. Follow him on twitter @tseamon