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Childlike vs. Childish

A few years ago I was introduced to a guy affectionately referred to as Uncle Ned. He is described as one of the most responsible people in his family, a finance professional highly established in his industry, and a big goofball.  When asked why he is so laid back in his personal life and childlike in behavior, he replied, “My job is so serious and a really big deal.  I like to separate from it and enjoy the simple and worthwhile things in life like messing around with my family.”

Some of the most interesting and experienced professionals I’ve known over the years are extremely childlike.  They are able to let go of the stresses of their jobs and the burdens that seem to weigh down their peers.  They have a gracefulness carried in their smile and the way that they sincerely care about those around them.

Being childlike takes grace – a letting go.  It is not being irresponsible or unprofessional.  Childishness or acting naively is far different from letting ourselves relax and tap into the heart of us, when we are childlike.  I would argue being a balanced professional and active contributor to society takes at least some childlike behavior from time to time.  It serves as a release valve to keep us smiling and experiencing the joy and hope amidst all the real issues that we face in our daily lives.

This past weekend I had the blessing of being able to dive a little deeper into my childlike behavior and construct a 12 x 12 foot sandcastle with my brother-in-law Jeff, niece Madisyn and the rest of my family joining in from time to time.  There might be a little soreness and sunburns as proof of the experience but what a great use of a beach visit with family. 

The next time an opportunity comes up to be serious or let yourself tap into that inner childlike center, I hope you throw off whatever entangles you and start digging in the sand, playing in the dirt, or taking a jump into that watering hole.

Rob DeCou