Getting Started: Embrace Your Inner Child

[Dutch Lock Down Day Four Hundred Sixty Four]

On the road to becoming a unicorn, you need to go backwards to make progress.

I know what you’re thinking right now, “do I want to be a unicorn?”

Of course you do.

And now you’re thinking, “but my inner child is pretty messed up…”

Fair.

Mine, too.

But your inner child is also REALLY smart.

They know how to fall down and get back up, how to be brave, how to play, how to explore and be curious – how to be a unicorn.

How to conquer the world.

How to Fall Down and Get Back Up

Who here knows how to ride a bike?

If you’re in the Netherlands, you’ve known how to ride a bike, possibly since birth, but most of us learn at some point in our childhood, unless you haven’t.

Unfortunately, if you don’t learn how to ride a bike when you’re a child, it is infinitely harder to learn.

This is not because our brains have shifted, but because at some point some shitty person laughed when we fell down and we develop this aversion to failure.

We don’t want to fall.

We don’t want to mess up.

We don’t want to be embarrassed.

And when we’re trying Something New, we want to instantly be The Best.

I’ve got news for you, when you’re doing something new, you will not be the best. You are not a secret ninja if you have never taken any ninja training classes. You will not win the Tour de France if you’ve never learned to ride a bike.

But you could if you got back up.

Because it is absolutely guaranteed that you will fall down. You will fail. You will mess up. You will make mistakes.

And that is beautiful.

Fall down! It’s part of life. And then Get Back Up.

How to Be Brave

While I am asking you to embrace your inner child today, maybe this analogy doesn’t fit as well as the rest. Because bravery isn’t something we’re born with, it’s something we develop – and, from what I’ve seen, children are NOT the bravest creatures.

Because being brave is HARD.

Sometimes it feels impossible.

Being brave. Is NOT. A lack of Fear.

It’s moving forward DESPITE that fear.

But if that’s still overwhelming, here are some baby steps to becoming more brave:

  • Embrace vulnerability
  • Admit you have fear
  • Do it anyway
  • When you fall down, GET BACK UP

NOTHING is impossible – every big scary monster or dragon can be broken down into manageable bite sized pieces and the key is to START.

Listen to that fear inside of you. Acknowledge it. Take a few minutes to make a plan.

And then DO THE PLAN.

How to Play

Just in case you are one of those skeptics who doesn’t believe in the importance of play, the National Institute for Play gathers research from diverse play scientists and practitioners to prove that play is good for your physical and mental health, that it increases harmony and effectiveness of relationships, that play optimizes learning, and it encourages innovation.

When we’re children, play is built into our daily structure, but as we get older, there’s less recess, no more breaks, and fewer naps.

Which is bullshit.

Those moments of play – of engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose – are instrumental to enjoying life, to becoming a unicorn, to conquering the world.

Sadly, I can’t tell you how to play.

This depends entirely on you – what you enjoy doing For Fun – do that. And when it’s not fun anymore, maybe it’s time to find a new Fun Thing to Do.

Sure, I can give you some ideas, though.

Go for a walk, learn to juggle, go swimming, drum, dance, play a sport, watch wildlife, visit a playground, garden, watch a movie, read a book, visit friends, volunteer, go to a museum or the zoo or a forest, bake cookies and share some with me, pop some corn, watch netflix, play an escape room, blog, play a board game, make a pizza from scratch, make a kite, learn origami, draw, write a letter, audition for a play, build a fort, play hide and seek, take a nap, make bubbles, listen to a podcast, or read.

Book the time in your calendar and go PLAY.

How to Explore and Stay Curious

It is absolutely possible to live your life, sitting in your room, doing the same thing day in and day out, but WHY?

I’m so glad you asked.

Literally from birth, people are explorers – exploring surroundings and environment and relationships and limitations and potential and “what does this do” and “how does that work” and “what happens if I”

To stop exploring is to stop being true to yourself.

And the key to exploration is to stay curious.

Curiosity pushes you to explore, yes, but also to network, to solve problems, to recognise and take advantage of opportunities, and to lead a happier life.

But HOW?

There are many paths to achieve a curious mind, but mine include:

  • Listen
  • Ask questions
  • Avoid assumptions
  • Listen
  • Embrace learning as fun
  • Develop a beginner’s mind
  • Listen

How to Be a Unicorn

Here’s a little secret.

Come closer.
Closer.

You ARE a unicorn already.

This label – unicorn – is a euphemism for being unique and fabulous and extra and YOU.

And, if Dr. Seuss is to be believed, no one in the world is you-er than you.

And they’re right.

All of the experiences you have had in your lifetime, your education, your background, your ups and downs, and whatever brought you here, to this talk, today – no one else has that reality.

Your experience. Your truth. Your existence and understanding.

Which is what makes you a unicorn.

How to Conquer the World

The neat part about all this is that if you follow those other steps, you will conquer the world.

It’s inherent in the steps.

  • Be willing to fall down. And get back up.
  • Be brave.
  • Play.
  • Explore and be curious.
  • Be the beautiful unicorn I know you are.