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