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A case for being childish at the office: Vinay Kanchan

Authored by Vinay Kanchan

Vinay Kanchan is a creative thinking trainer and a brand ideation consultant. He is the author of two bestselling books, ‘Lessons from the Playground’ and ‘The Madness Starts at 9’.

Typically when people swipe in their cards and walk through the office doors, they are supposed to be ‘all grown up and adult’. And yet in this era of innovation and start-ups, organizations are finding that employees perform best, when they turn back the clock. Not literally of course, that could have attendance recording issues, but more in terms of revisiting, how they used to think and behave when they were much younger.

‘Children’s Day’ has been celebrated for a long time in our country. Usually all celebrations are restricted to kids. But in these creativity demanding times, perhaps it might be a cue for adults to be reminded on this day, of a perspective which could be career enhancing.

Even recalling a few of those mindsets might make for a more productive work day. And hey, you just might have a lot of fun along the way.

Don’t be afraid to fail

Observing a child learning to cycle is often inspiring. She might fall frequently. But at no point does she think, ‘cycling is not for me, let me try philosophy instead’. What gets her over the line and off and cycling is resilience. Children keep trying, never fearing for a moment others might laugh at them. They try and try until they get a grasp of ‘cycle-logy’.  This is an invaluable attitude whenever embarking on the quest for a new idea. Failure is a constant side effect, until at one point the idea learns to balance itself. In many ways your immunity to failure decides how far you can peddle the idea.

Be comfortable with nonsense

Sometimes it’s such an interesting experience to watch cartoons with kids. See what all they laugh at, reminisce how you used to laugh at those same gags not too long ago (hopefully), before logic stepped in.  Children revel in the nonsensical. This is also why they are so creative. They have no inhibitions about putting a toy dinosaur and a cell phone together (chronologically separated by millions of years and GUI), and see if that leads to any biting calls. In stark contrast to your boss’s constant exhortation that you make logical sense, creativity often lies on the other end of nonsense. It’s just that it takes some getting used to. Not kidding there.

Imagineer play

Much before Disney made that term cool, children were doing it. Give children a situation without anything, and they will think up some & more. They will try and explore what else can something be? They will experiment with flights of fancy, even in the most ordinary of situations. A broken bench becomes the stage for a story around a sinking ship. A tree can morph into an entire exotic continent. A game of under arm cricket is nothing less than the World Cup Final. We adults lose this ability, perhaps once we stop gazing out of the window; the windowless offices these days being no help in this regard. But treating challenges with imaginative levity might just help turn around difficult situations. Imaginative play has to be made part of the working day. Jack did suffer from that long ago.

Laugh a lot

If nothing else, just being around kids ensures you will laugh a lot more. Often kids laugh for no reason. It is utterly infectious. And yet as adults, we always ‘shush’ moments of mirth. Like all traces of laughter have to be declared dead on sight. This is also often the case, when ‘something serious’ is being discussed. But humor should always be looked at as a liberating perspective, especially in problem solving. The manner in which humor works-at its core being all about making unexpected connections- ensures that someone in the room will soon have an ‘aha’ moment about the problem at hand. Add to that it diffuses the stress in a room and puts everyone in a better frame of mind. Surely now you have a compelling reason for everyone to laugh their way to the office, not just to the bank.

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Wordsworth was onto something when he mused, ‘the child is the father of man’. Luckily he was a poet, not a consultant. Else he would have charged a bomb for telling you that.

To conclude, to ensure a brighter future for your organization, it just might be necessary to travel back in the past; if only to rediscover the child within from time to time.

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