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What I Learned From My 5-Year Old Niece

“A 7 year old did this, so you should be able to figure it out, too.”

That’s what the line said. The words were sitting in my inbox, so I could do a double take and confirm what I had just read. 

Yes, I read it correctly. 

My immediate reaction – what kind of s#!t is that? How is that supposed to be motivating? You’re telling me that this other person has a 30+ year head start? Well, I might as well not even put in the effort or try. These thoughts coupled with a heat that rose from my belly. 

In the span of two seconds, I went from enjoying the start of my day, feeling proud of being on top of my writing for the first time in what felt like eons, to silent irritation, anger, and dread. 

The use of lines like this is exactly the type of pot-stirring that’s become commonplace. 

I want to stop it. Here. Now. 

Let’s agree to not agitate as a means to garner attention or merely be click bait. 

Let’s decide to healthily push each other to be better, do better. 

With one caveat. You only push people to go there when you know them. 

That means when we’re writing for larger audiences, where we can’t know every single person who may grace us with their time and attention, we create from a place of love, kindness, generosity. 

Not from a place of “look at me, look at me” attention-seeking. That level of graspy energy will not change the world. 

It does just the opposite and puts more grubby energy back into our communities. 

Here is my intention, setting it now for you all to hold me accountable, we’re going to lift each other up, together. 

I’m going to share information that I think is interesting, helpful, thought-provoking, conversational. All with much love and belief in you.

Okay? Fantastic!

Now, I often hear people say if there’s something you want to see, read, hear in this world that you haven’t been able to find yet, create it yourself. 

So that’s what I want to do – share the type of piece I would have wanted to read instead. More effective title and all.  

Here’s where we get to the bit about my 5-year old niece. We’ll call her P. She’s adorable and creative and started kindergarten this week.

The other day, I was spending the afternoon with P at a local pool. Due to the restrictions as a result of the pandemic and the way it’s changed the way we socialize, she couldn’t invite a friend or two for a pool playdate. 

So she was stuck, with grown ups. The horror of horrors for a kid.

Except, it wasn’t. 

Because she decided to make us, her family, her pool buddies for the day and invited us to play a game with her. 

The game was simple – she would throw a little ball-like toy, which happened to look an awful lot like the planet, Saturn, into the water. Whoever swam to the ball first and snatched it up, was the thrower in the next round. While the other two people became the swimmers and vied for a chance to swim to the tiny ball. 

The game continued on for about 45 minutes. 

She only grew tired of it because she herself started to get a little tired and needed a break. 

I thought her inventiveness for the day was intriguing. Here, this little human, seeing that she wouldn’t have people her age to play with, devised a game to play with the older folk, whom she knew could swim around the pool. 

The next day I found out that her level of creativity for gamifying most any situation didn’t stop with her impromptu contest in the pool. 

When at home, she likes to hide sticky notes throughout the rooms. On each sticky note is a number and you, as the seeker, set out to collect all the notes. The catch, you need to find them in the correct number order. 

And that’s when it hit me. 

This 5-year old is clever at breaking norms in order to create her own vision of her world. 

She doesn’t just fall in the same old, same old routine of watching “Paw Patrol” or “Dino Dana” when she isn’t sure what to do next. She doesn’t look to the adults in her life to plan out every minute of her day or tell her what she should do for enjoyment. 

She intentionally carves her own path on a daily basis. 

How many times do we, as adults, do that? 

The last time you thought about how to structure your next webinar, did you give yourself over to what your soul told you to do? 

When you wanted to redevelop your offer two weeks ago, what did you tell yourself? Was it, “hey, that would be so neat and out of the box and I’m doing it”? Or was it, “oh, people won’t be expecting that so I better not do it?”

The place where you start is always the same. Like all instances in our life where we might need a jolt of change, begin by noticing when you’re falling in a pattern that someone ELSE has told you to follow. 

Next, get curious about why you’re taking that action. What is the real reason I’ve taken this action? Does it serve me? Does it feel light and airy or stodgy and heavy? 

If it’s light and airy, proceed and enjoy. 

If it’s stodgy and heavy, consider how you might break the wheel. 

Ask, what would a 5-year do here?

 

 

Photo by Mike Gomez

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