Success is Child’s Play!

by Jeff Keller


We can learn a great deal about the qualities and behaviors that lead to success and fulfillment in life simply by observing children. I myself once attended a mini?success seminar while sitting in a local sandwich shop.

There I was, eating my turkey hero, when a mother entered the store with her two young kids — a boy and a girl who each looked to be about four or five years old.

While mom waited on line for her order to be taken, the two children ran over to the self?serve soda machine and ice dispenser to check out all the gadgets. It was a typical contraption — the kind where you just tap the button and an avalanche of ice plops into your cup (and, probably, onto the floor!).

The young boy was sticking his hands through the grill where the excess soda and ice falls in. He was trying to feel and get a handful of whatever sticky stuff was down there. His mother caught a glimpse and shouted at him to get his hands out of there. Oblivious to her, the boy kept putting his hands through the grill, investigating the mess.

The young girl then started pointing to each item on the machine and yelled over to her mother, “What’s that?” — eager to hear mom’s explanation of each flavor. Mom,
however, wasn’t interested in playing teacher. She paid for the drink, received an empty cup, and attempted to fill it herself. Her kids, of course, had other ideas.

Both children wanted to operate the machine. They begged Mom to allow them to do it, refusing to take NO for an answer — and believe me, mom did say NO several times before finally relenting. Both youngsters excitedly grabbed the cup and pressed it against the ice and soda levers. The cup was wobbly and not centered properly, but they didn’t care. They just wanted to be involved and to have fun.

Here’s what I learned:

1. The children were totally engaged in the present moment. How difficult it is for us as adults to concentrate on NOW and to block out all other thoughts. Either we’re brooding over the past or worrying about the future, seldom taking the time to experience and enjoy the fullness of the present. Not so for these kids. Nothing in the world mattered except that soda dispenser.

2. The kids were incredibly persistent. They were going to operate the machine no matter what mom said! Every time they heard “NO,” they kept on insisting until their mother finally gave in. They had their eyes on the goal and no obstacle would get in their way.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you keep begging until you get your way in life. But we should learn to be persistent and to search for creative new ways to turn a “NO” into a “YES” — whether we’re on a sales call, negotiating with a supplier or launching a new project in our community.

3. The kids were filled with wonder and enthusiasm. Once they saw the machine, they wanted to know everything about it. They were excited and bubbling with enthusiasm at the thought of filling the cup.

Contrast this approach with the way adults tend to view new things. Most of us are rarely enthused about the unknown. In fact, we usually keep our distance and have no interest in exploring anything unfamiliar.

4. The children didn’t care what others thought about them. Even though I was just a short distance away and staring right at them, these children paid no attention to me. They weren’t concerned about how well they were “performing.” In fact, failure wasn’t on their minds at all. The cup was tilted and ice and soda were all over the place … yet they couldn’t care less! They just wanted to learn, participate
and enjoy themselves.

As we get older, we begin to focus not so much on doing a task, but rather on the possibility that others may laugh at us or judge our performance harshly. As a result, we often decide that it’s best not to try at all. (The truth is, nobody cares that much about you anyway; most are too busy worrying about their own problems!)

So, let’s make it a point to recapture some of our “child’s play” of years past. Think about the ways in which you can apply these ideas to your life.

Now, I’m not advising you to discard the valuable traits you have developed as an adult and revert solely to “childish” behavior. The key is to integrate both approaches. When we combine adult maturity and discipline with the playfulness,
inquisitiveness and creativity of the child within us, we can accomplish great things — and have plenty of fun and enjoyment along the way.

– Jeff Keller
(C) 1999 Attitude is Everything, Inc.

Jeff Keller is a motivational speaker and delivers his presentations and seminars to businesses, groups and trade associations throughout the United States and abroad. He is the author of the newly released book, Attitude is Everything. For more information on Jeff’s products and services, visit his web site:


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