Three Common Playground Behaviors to Increase Professional Resiliency

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The playground seems like a place for play - an unlikely place to take our professional cues. It turns out, however, that some of the most common childhood habits can actually work as resiliency-building tools.
Children often have naturally resilient tendencies – think about a toddler learning to walk and hitting the ground over and over, never giving up. Three childhood habits we can all attempt to adapt are:

1. Climb High, Lay Low
Benefit: Find new perspective and new solutions

2. Let Go of Grudges
Benefit: Softened attitude toward colleagues

3. Every Day is Today
Benefit: Focus on the challenge in front of you, reducing panic and burnout.

By borrowing these three innate childhood behaviors, we have the opportunity to increase our own resilience now, as professional adults.

1. What Kids Do: They’re High, Low, and Everywhere
You’ll find elementary school kids at the top of the highest tree in the park, surveying the land below or maybe lying in the grass, taking an ant’s-eye-view of the ground. As adults, on the other hand, we spend our days solidly connected to our own two feet (or worse – a desk chair!), rather than looking for new and unique views on the world.

How You Can Benefit:
Sometimes we get stuck thinking our vantage point is the only one (or the only right one). We get so focused on our perspective and the path in front of us that we don’t see other options or other ways of looking at a situation. You don’t need to actually climb a tree to change your perspective, but a little professional “tree climbing” can give us a fresh perspective and behavior that get our jobs done innovatively.

2. What Kids Do: They Forgive and Forget
Children are pretty fantastic about not holding grudges. If they like you, they’ll forgive you for anything and move on in a heartbeat.   

How You Can Benefit
We spend a lot of energy as adults holding on to the times we’ve been “wronged” in the past.  While you never want to keep setting yourself up to trust someone who has proven untrustworthy, we tend to do ourselves a disservice when we continually hold grudges against well-meaning colleagues. Holding on to past mistakes takes a lot of energy – energy that could otherwise be directed positively in the workplace. 

3. What Kids Do: Every Day is Either Today or Tomorrow
Ask a preschooler when their birthday is, and they’ll likely tell you that it is tomorrow, even if it is months away. And that recent trip to Disneyland?  In their minds, it just happened yesterday.  Kids don’t always grasp the calendar of life, so everything to them seems much more immediate. 

How You Can Benefit
As working professionals, we often don’t have the luxury of pretending that today is the only day that matters, and not having an eye on future events. However, being too focused on the big picture can hurt our resilience.

When you start to feel overwhelmed, adopt a child’s tunnel vision: today and tomorrow are the days that matter. Worry about the rest of the week once you get today cleared off your plate. Resilience in the workplace is a more important skill than ever before. These three childhood habits can give us clues to boost our own ability to bounce back in a tough work environment. 

 


Courtney Clarkis the author of “The Giving Prescription: A Personal Plan for Healing Through Helping.” She is a two-time cancer survivor, a brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, founder of a nonprofit, and a resilience expert. Connect with Courtney on her Facebook page, Twitter, and her website: CourtneyLClark.com.

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