Want More Courage? Act Like a Kid!

“All of our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

As adults, we’re often afraid to try new things or get out of our comfort zones. What if in trying something new, we fail? Or worse, what if we try that new thing in front of others and have to face the embarrassment of failing.

We are much more self-aware and self-conscious as adults than we were when we were young. This fear of failure and self-doubt can be paralyzing. When you’re worried or anxious about the result of what will happen when you try, you often stop yourself from trying at all.

Kids, on the other hand, have a naturally playful mindset and aren’t usually as concerned with what others think of them. That makes them better learners because when they try new things, they have fun, embrace failure as part of the fun and don’t care who’s watching.

They somehow know that failure leads to success. Think of the freedom this mentality could give you as an adult. 

Lessons Learned from My Kids

Watch a kid on the playground, learning to ride a bike or perfecting a handstand. Think about the last time you tried something new and compare your attitude to theirs.

Time after time, my kids have proven to be my biggest inspiration for being courageous. I look at them in awe and think about how they try and try again without fear or embarrassment. Just a few examples of their courage include:

  • My youngest son, Tosin, laughs all day as he flops on the trampoline while perfecting his back flip. One failed flip after another doesn’t stop him. He keeps going until he gets it right, then perfecting them until he’s satisfied.
  • Skateboard tricks gone wrong make epic videos as far as my oldest son, Ayo, is concerned. He uses what some may see as a video to immediately delete as something to find pride in.
  • My favorite (albeit only) daughter, Lola, sings at the top of her lungs to a song even when she doesn’t know the words, not quieting with embarrassment at her blunders but continuing on with her strong voice.

How to Be a Kid in Business

As I’m inspired by my kids’ courage, I think about how I can steal a little of it for myself, both as an adult and professional. As I launch my new business, I’m giving myself permission to be a kid and encourage you to do that same. To me, this means we’ll need to do four things:

  1. View trying as playing. Let’s not worry about the outcome, or being perfect. Let’s enjoy the fun in trying without set expectations for success.
  2. Laugh at your mistakes. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. Let’s turn our failures into a great (and even funny) story to share with others.
  3. Acknowledge to others that you’re trying. One way to diffuse the embarrassment of learning something new in public is by proactively telling others you’re learning. They can’t expect perfection if they know you’re trying and learning. If fact, people are likely to be impressed and supportive of your willingness to embrace something new.
  4. Adopt a healthy disregard for what others think. Make learning and trying more important than your image. Stop worrying about what other people think about you. The truth is, everyone is more concerned about themselves than you. And criticism from others is more a reflection on them than it is on you.

Join me on this challenge! Every time you try something new and adopt one of our four guiding principles to embrace failure like a kid, post it on Instagram and tag @thebrimfullife using the hashtag #actlikeakid. Let’s face our biggest challenges together and make it easier to fail on our road to success.

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Beth believes a positive, connected and committed organizational culture is critical to business success. That’s why she combined her 25 years of corporate leadership and management consulting experience with her expertise in diversity and inclusion and positive psychology to launch, The Brimful Life, a consulting firm that works with executives to strengthen their leadership skills and transform their leadership teams and organizational cultures to better support the organization’s vision and strategic goals. In addition, The Brimful Life podcast series, keynote presentations and workshops inspire and equip leaders to put people and culture first.

Beth has lived and worked in London, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Boston and New York City. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of Virginia, a MA in International Relations from Tufts University and an MBA from Columbia University.

Beth lives a brimful life by spending time with her husband and three kids and with running, speed skating and watching cooking competition shows on TV which is ironic because she hates to cook.

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