(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)
You know people who act childish from time to time. It’s not an attractive behavior. Why are we put off by childish behavior? Because we know that someone acting that way does not care about us. They are only interested in getting their own needs met and have no interest in ours. For them, it’s me, me, me.
Childlike behavior has a completely different energy to it. Think of a time when you have observed a small child interact with their world. They approach everything with curiosity and wonder. Stick that in his or her mouth to see what it tastes like. Touch that to see what it feels like. And ask “why?” a lot! The reason they behave like this is because it is a powerful and quick way to learn.
Learning is one of the differences between childlike and childish behavior, but why is there a learning difference?
It is because of the difference in awareness. The childish person is only aware of themselves and their immediate needs. They tend to not look at consequences. Instant gratification is their overarching drive.
When you approach life every day with a childlike perspective you have a greater awareness, an awareness which can encompass other people, longer time frames and more consequences.
It takes a lot of focus for an adult, hardened by time, to let go and see the world as a child, fresh and with curiosity.
It’s worth it.
Coaching Point: When were you last childlike?
Copyright 2002 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.