When did you last take a risk?
The last few days have got me thinking again about the times when I see clients operating most powerfully from a place of courage and agency, and able to help good things happen.
When children are growing-up play is an important exercise in trying out different behaviours, roles and identities.
'Play' is a safe place to experiment where: the stakes feel low enough, the consequences are temporary, and the words 'fear' and 'failure' seem completely out of place. If children feel afraid of failing at play, something toxic has shown-up in the environment that most care-givers would be swift to remove.
And yet we abandon play.
As we grow up we internalise social inhibitions, we begin to conform to norms, and we become self-conscious. It's a sad day when a child goes from feeling proud of the effort they've put into something, to judging their work as 'bad' by comparing it to others.
It's clear to see how hard we can find it to re-inhabit the freedom of 'creative experimentation without fear of failure, where the power of united passion, innovation and learning come together. We find ourselves out of practice at taking risks. So how can we re-create the conditions for 'play' in our families, communities and organisations? These are some questions you may find useful:
- where have I/we shut down our creativity through comparison or conformity?
- how have I/we come to believe that risk is impossible because the stakes are too high or the consequences too permanent? (fixed mindset)
- How can I/we lower the material and psychological 'stakes' to make experiments feasible and the possibility of failure ok?
- How can I/we re-engage with learning by making changes and evaluating the results?
In the same way that children learn about effective behaviours to get what they want and to find the roles and identities that fit and feel good, we can continue to grow (evolve) if we continue to adapt.