Be like a child

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ANTON NG

Aren’t three-year olds the cutest? My youngest daughter is at that age, and she never fails to make us smile. She has a lot of stories to tell, though; we have not really figured out what language she is using. So every time we talk, I concentrate on capturing keywords and trying to catch contextual clues.

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There’s another thing I notice about my daughter. Just like any other toddler, she is always amazed and everything she sees brings delight to her face. She’s always interested in new things. Everything is a toy. Every place is a playground. Everything is amazing.

As we were about to go to church one day, my three-year-old let out a loud shriek. Our house cat was lazily lying on the roof of our car. “Ashi! Ashi! Look! Cat on car!”, the younger one excitedly shouted. “So?”, said her older sister, nonchalantly shrugging her off. That exchange between my two girls got me thinking: At what point do we lose that sense of amazement? At what point do we dismiss a lot of things around us? At what point do we become so pessimistic, that we often say “So?” a little bit too often as we grow older?

Over the weekend, my three-year-old was once again down with a cough and fever. Her doctor recommended that we got her a nebulizer to help her deal with the cough. We picked her up at home and brought her with us to the drugstore. On our way, we explained to her that she needed to put on the mask for the nebulizer that night. Her face, from being really excited to see us, suddenly became concerned, maybe because the thought of a mask and the unknown word “nebulizer” did not appeal to her.

While my wife bought the nebulizer, my daughter transferred to the driver seat with me. She was so excited to sit in front. Her eyes lit up when she saw the overpass. She excitedly told me, about half a dozen times, that she went up that overpass before with her ate, as they went to a place I couldn’t understand. The amazement on her face over such a seemingly mundane thing was such a sight. She was excited about an overpass, a dimly lit structure.

She then transferred her excitement to the lights inside the car. She pressed one button after another, giggling in between. Her level of excitement felt like it was Christmas morning when she would open the gifts one by one. I wondered when the last time was that I felt so delighted over such simple things. Sadly, I couldn’t remember anymore.

As soon as we got home, we showed her the new apparatus and mask. From an initial response of not being interested, she eventually changed her mind. She then became so excited that she could no longer contain her joy. She kept on walking, running, and jumping while I was trying to put everything together. I guess, for her, she was just amazed with this new thing that we asked her to use. It certainly did not matter that the compressor did not resemble any of her toys—it was black, boxy, and noisy. All she wanted that night was to put on the mask and use this new apparatus as soon as possible.

I’m not here saying that we should start looking at an overpass with the same excitement and jump for joy. I’m not even suggesting that everything and everyone should respond with amazement. All I’m saying is that the more we lose our ability to be amazed, the more we limit our own possibilities. The fewer the things we allow to excite us, the less we would be willing to try or even consider trying. I could push this further and say that our inability to be amazed limits our desire to have conversations with other people, just like how my eldest child shot down her little sister’s amazement with a single word. “So?” ended their conversation.

Sometimes, we miss out on trying new things, because we often see the negative first. This could be true for organizations as it is true for individuals. We often focus too much and too early on the downside. What if, even for a moment, we look beyond and consider the possibilities of a new endeavor, a new activity, a new way of doing things? Let other adults remind us of the risks, just like what parents do to their kids. At that very moment, however, be excited about the possibilities.

Give a child any toy and they’ll be very excited to play with it. It does not even matter if it is a toy. The child will find a way to play with it in ways we adults cannot understand. Like a child who would accept anything you give them and play with it, as long as it gives them joy, can we, adults, do the same? Can we as adults toy around with an idea for a few moments, instead of trashing it as soon as we hear it? Why not let an idea, a suggestion, a thesis circle around our head, get excited about it, and explore the possibilities? Would we then be able to think of a lot of new ways of doing things? Would we be finally able to try and learn new things? Be more open, be more accepting, be more amazed like a child.

Maybe I should hang out more with my daughters. I might learn a few more things and continue to be amazed.

Anton Ng is a partner, Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and more than 850 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to anton.ng@ph.gt.com or pagrantthornton.marketscomm@ph.gt.com. For more information, visit our Website: www.grantthornton.com.ph.

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