When Growing Up Isn’t all it’s Cracked Up to Be
Do you remember the last time you called someone immature, or told someone to grow up?
Chances are, they would have been pretty offended. Maybe even pissed off.
Why is that?
Well, it’s because, as adults, we pride ourselves on being “mature”, or “grown-up”. Society sees these qualities as being very positive, since they’re associated with wisdom, responsibility and common-sense.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with gaining wisdom as we age, the fact is that the vast majority of us sacrifice a large, valuable part of ourselves in the process – the child-like part.
Now, as I said, to most people this isn’t a problem, since being childish, or child-like, is usually seen as a bad thing. Pretty much in every way. Most people want to shed those qualities.
They don’t want to do or say silly things. They don’t want to play games. Hell, some people don’t even want to wear bright colors or laugh too much.
Basically, they want to avoid anything that might make people question their maturity.
The irony is, however, that there are many valuable attributes that children possess that would actually lead adults to have a far more fulfilling, happier, and even more successful life.
Yes . . . I said successful.
As in financially, career-wise, business-wise, in relationships . . . in fact, in all areas of life.
Sounds weird, right? That by being more like a child, you can actually be a more successful adult? Achieve more, create more, experience more, and have more.
When you really stop and think about it though, it makes perfect sense. Because the fact is, life tempers us as time goes on.
What do I mean by that?
Well, think about what you were like as a child.
If you were like most kids, for you the world was filled with magic, wonder and unlimited possibilities. You may have had dreams of becoming the most famous actress in the world, a rich supermodel, a superstar pop singer, maybe a princess, or a beautiful ballerina.
Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child's eye - it is very beautiful.
But these wouldn’t have just been idle wishes, like we tend to have as adults. They would have been dreams that were larger than real life. You would have had an almost-unrestrained level of excitement at the thought of what your future was going to be like.
You would have written about it in your diary, drawn pictures about it, bored everyone silly talking about it, even lost sleep over it.
When’s the last time you saw this level of enthusiasm over something so far-fetched in an adult?
As a child, you wouldn’t have given a second thought to how silly or unrealistic your dreams were. Or exactly how you were going to make them a reality. All you knew is that they were definitely going to happen, they were exciting as hell, and you just couldn’t wait.
The interesting thing is, any success coach will tell you that this is exactly the type of mindset you need to achieve massive success in any area of your life.
You need to let go of your adult obsession with being sensible and realistic, make the sky the limit, and then believe with all your heart and soul that your vision will become a reality. You need to be as convinced as you are that the sun will come up tomorrow.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
Because as I said, life tempers us.
From the moment you’re born, the experiences in your life and the people in your life progressively repress your ambitions, your dreams, your outlook, and even your own self-belief.
Look at any modern-day parent with their child in public. How often do you hear them praising or encouraging their child? Or giving them positive reinforcement of any kind?
Compare that to how often you hear a parent chastising their child, telling them to stop doing something, that they can’t have something, or threatening them for . . . well, being a child. And doing what a normal child does.
It’s no contest, right?
Then you start school and everything goes up a notch. The bullying and the teasing take over. Kids are ruthless when it comes to homing in on the smallest of things to tease someone about. Your nose is too big, your eyebrows are too bushy, you wear glasses, you smell bad, you’re too fat. And on and on it goes.
Your self-esteem takes another hit.
You progress into your teen years and things really ramp up. The peer social pressure peaks. If you don’t fit in here – if you don’t conform to the norm, the penalty is severe. Many people’s self-esteem never quite recovers from this.
At school, you’ve already been taught that failure is bad and needs to be avoided at all costs, but now your entire future is at stake. All that matters in your life are exams, and if you fail now, your life is as good as over.
But it’s not just the school system. Through your teens and into your adult years, whenever you experience some kind of failure – you lose your job, your relationship breaks down, your investment tanks – it sucks. It hurts deep down inside.
There’s a self-protection mechanism built into your brain that’s trying to look out for you, and once you feel that pain of failure, it wires your thinking and your decision-making to avoid it in the future.
Stick your hand into the fire once, and you won’t do it again. That kind of thing.
As you get older, the web of influence that this mechanism weaves gets stronger and stronger. The end result? You become more conservative. Another characteristic of “maturity”.
You live your life safe. You gravitate towards security and comfort. You don’t take risks.
Kids don’t suffer from this.
All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
A toddler will fall over twenty times trying to walk but will just keep on getting back up like nothing ever happened, until she gets it right. A child will fall out of a tree, break her arm, and be right back up there days later with her arm in plaster.
The very reason most adults are destined to a life of mediocrity rather than an extraordinary one is because maturity, as we know it, holds them back. It’s that simple.
By avoiding risks. By avoiding uncertainty. By fearing failure.
Over time, life teaches us to worry more about the risks than the rewards. More about what can go wrong than what can go right. More about what other people think than what we want. Too much about how sensible or realistic an option is.
What if I fall? Oh, but my darling what if you fly?
It teaches us to be practical and conservative.
People who manage to create an extraordinary life for themselves and achieve extraordinary things do so by holding on to qualities they had as kids, rather than letting life eat away at them.
How else could they dare to take on projects that most people would see as too hard, or as probably failing?
How else could they be brave enough to perform in public or on TV, and risk being judged and ridiculed?
How else would they be able to experience the view from the top of a mountain they’ve just scaled?
How else could they fly to the moon?
The truth is, the greatest risk of all in life is to risk nothing. There’s a very steep price to be paid for seeking shelter in the cave of security and certainty. And that’s missing out on many of the best gifts that life has to offer.
Being conservative, sensible, practical, level-headed . . . in other words, “mature”, is a death sentence.
One of the major keys to a fulfilling life is to hang on to and embrace your child-like qualities.
Be silly, take risks, be unrealistic . . . and don’t care who’s watching or what they think.