Love life like a child, just don’t behave like one…

Ama-Dablam

Many people know me because of my mountaineering expeditions, but in parallel to my adventures, I’ve had a long career in Electrical Engineering.  Over my 27 years of nationalisation’s, takeovers and mergers I’ve seen may things, but one of the most startling is the ability to act like a child.  Let me explain…

In the wider world, we should never lose the excitement we found as children.  If you don’t know what I mean, look into the eyes of a two year old and take in the delight of everything they see.  Watch how they try new things with abandon, always say yes, scream with laughter and love like there is no tomorrow.  These are the things that many adults have lost, but can regain.  Perhaps having children of your own helps, but no matter how old you are, you must never lose that wonderful innocence…

As we get older, some say we become grumpy.  I’ve certainly been accused of it enough times..!  I’m more of a realist really, but just lately I’ve seen incredibly grumpy behaviour from professional people in their 40’s and 50’s.  I’ve seen full on arguments, strops, teddies being thrown out of prams, exuberant finger pointing – the lot..!  Truly childish behaviour at its worst.  What is this achieving?  Nothing… Why is it happening..?  Stress, change and uncertainty.  Remember…

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways”  I Corinthians 14

Every industry goes through change.  It’s inevitable in the modern world of business, and it can be for better, or worse, depending on the point of view.  Some people thrive on change, whilst others hate it.  From my own experiences of a government nationalisation and four corporate takeovers, it is tiring both mentally and emotionally every time it happens.  One set of ideals is suddenly replaced by another, ethics and targets change and the staff are expected to keep taking it and perform.  I’ve seen many people feel trapped by their jobs, and scared to challenge anyone in the new management team just in case they tread on their toes.  Remember what children do.  They will question and query incessantly.  People can find it irritating, but all they want to do is learn and understand.  Their inhibitions are untainted by lifes experience and they want to soak up knowledge.  Now transfer these skills into a management meeting.  I’ve sat in many where the staff are ordered beforehand not to question, or feel intimidated enough to keep silent.  This accomplishes nothing.  Management go away thinking that there are no problems or issues and staff feel frustrated.  Again, this achieves nothing.  I wonder how many of you wake up everryday with the sole desire to achieve nothing..?

Every time I go mountaineering, I open my eyes like a child, but need an adults experience to survive.  In 2009 I was climbing on Ama Dablam in Nepal, and I was throughly engrossed in the beauty of the mountain.  I dreamt, relaxed and was truly at one with my surroundings.  This beautiful feeling was suddenly smashed on summit day when the rope I was abseiling on failed, and I slid straight down the mountainside.  Below me sat rocks galore, waiting to decimate my legs, and then a 2000ft drop to smash me into the glacier.  Things were looking decidedly bad.  Thankfully I dug in what was left of my fingers and feet into the soft snow and slowly stopped myself.  Quietly I took stock of my situation.  I was hyperventilating, teetering on my crampon tips and scared s***less.  Here a child could panic, but thankfully a calmness came over me.  I steadied my breathing, delicately tip toed across to some old ropes, slung my arms around them and took a deep breath.  My relief was short lived as I had another seventeen abseiling to get down to Camp 2, but with a guides help, I stumbled in way after dark, opened my tent and collapsed into bed.  Only during the morning after did I shed a tear and feel what had happened. It’s times like these where you need to be an adult…

As a speaker, I’ve presented to audiences from the ages of 7 to 70.  Corporate audiences may ask for an after dinner speech and be entertained by my stories, but children’s eyes beam with delight as they imagine travels and adventures.  No matter how old you are, never forget what it felt like to be a child, but act like an adult when you need to. Your career and indeed your life may depend upon it…

2 thoughts on “Love life like a child, just don’t behave like one…

  1. Great article Nigel. My experience is the grown up organisational cultures are few and far between. Many organisations stifle the expertise their individuals could bring to the table by asking for behaviour and attitudes that limit creativity and increased performance. Adults ultimately learn how to adapt to whatever environment they find themselves in and take a judgement call everyday about the degree of challenge that can be tolerated by their organisation. Ultimately organisations teach their employees how to do business with them.

    Just mytwopeneth…

    C.

  2. Honest, insightful and absolutely spot on. Another fine blog Nigel – always love reading and hearing your words.

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