In the midst of ‘writer’s block’ I am suddenly and mercifully awakened by the joyous chorus of a little boy’s voice. It was excited, impatient and innocent. The words rolled flawlessly into one long gasping parade of sentences as he provided our ‘front of house’ personnel with a recitation so full of emphasis and enthusiasm I feared he might explode.
I heard him still chattering wildly minutes later, as his mother attempted to exit the building. Unaware of exactly what he had said I rang the front desk and enquired as to the topic which had so excited our small visitor. His name was Benjamin and with his younger brother Lucas he had come to visit Dad. Dad of course is our senior creative Vaughan and, unlike his father Benjamin had arrived and run off at the mouth – Vaughan arrives and you wouldn’t know he was here unless he stopped for lunch.
I digress, Benjamin had apparently been so enthused that he quite simply bubbled his way into our office and began to tell his story of an imaginary house. He vividly described rooms, entrances, exits and features, spectacular in detail and a smorgasbord of inventive ideas. I can still recall the sheer joy of his discussion and the magnificent creative genius of his runaway imagination.
During a quiet moment, later that day, it occurred to me what a bonus being a child really is. Not only does childhood allow us the freedom to dream and create without boundaries, it also permits us to share concepts and dreams without inhibition or fear of judgement. How often do we hold back and internalise our excitement because it may impact on people’s opinions of us? How often do we not share our ideas because of the fear that others may think less of us? Not Benjamin. For a short time anyway, he will search his mind and visit places to which we, so called ‘adults’, may never be privy.
In the mid 1960’s, Dr. Eric Berne, Psychiatrist and Creator of Transactional Analysis, authored a book called, ‘Games People Play’. It discussed human behaviour and separated our parental, adult and childish behaviour into three sub systems. He postulated that, a full state of maturity exists only when all three sub systems are in balance and do not corrupt one another. He went on to recommend that we, “let the child out to play – it’s healthy”.
During the past six months in particular, we have seen the ‘parental’ and ‘adult’ behaviour of our so called business leaders, executives and politicians, come to the fore. In my opinion it hasn’t been pretty. They’ve demonstrated their greed and an absolute lack of problem solving skills. I think the absence of ‘the child’ is a major contributor to this lack of resolve. Resolution is derived from hope and positive creativity, coupled with an application of uninhibited lateral think. In all of these so called leaders, ‘letting the child out to play’ is rare or none existence.
Based on my recent experience, I wish with all my heart that politics and business would become as innocent and creatively honest as Benjamin. Not only would it rid us of the pretentious rubbish that we see in petty corporate politics and avaricious company behaviour, it would also free us to create new and innovative solutions, both in policies, values, products and marketing. As simplistic as it sounds to those who want to complicate things with egotistical arrogance, the end results are undeniable. The world is bogged down with corporate cleverness. It’s just not that complicated especially when it’s transparent and void of self interest.
Thank you Benjamin! You warmed my heart, taught me yet another of life lessons and all because you believed in yourself – something we adults have not yet learned to do.