THE VALUE IN NAIVETY
My youngest nephew is eight, and he recently reminded me of the value of naivety. His teacher asked if anyone could play an instrument, crickets…
So he said… I can play the ukulele. Now he has a ukulele, but can he play a tune? Ahhh no, as his mother pointed out. He was not fazed, he just said, I’ll give it a go. On the day, said nephew strolled to the front of class to proffer an ‘original tune’. But the teacher announced, “our theme is Hawaiian, so can you play something Hawaiian?” My nephew said, “ok” and went on to play his original ‘original’ piece. Knowing him with some added hula movements. The class went wild and everyone including teacher loved it.
So many lessons I cannot tell you. Although I still have a bit of that ‘wing it’ style naïve attitude, that story made me rethink how I approach opportunities that come my way both in life and in business. It also highlighted the fear that invades us as adults, we forget that we don’t have to be in control, or the expert or to know everything before we jump in.
I recently got married, not my first stab at this societal institution. And the response to the announcement was mostly positive. Then there was this, “why would you want to do that again?” or “risky, didn’t work out last time around,” statements to that effect anyway.
Call me naïve perhaps, I call me an optimist. It never crossed my mind to think of it in that way. I said yes because I was prepared to give it my best shot and I had learnt the lessons of the past. I said yes, because I might not know what’s ahead but I am sure of one thing, I have the capacity to figure it out, whatever ‘it’ turns out to be.
I see that as a positive. What I call ‘naïve thinking’ is an attitude I don’t want to lose in any aspect of life. But one I have to constantly remind myself of when faced with the unknown. My reminder mantra:
Say yes. Then figure it out. (Thanks Nephew)
Case in point, when asked to record some podcast interviews a while back, by one of the highest rating podcasts on iTunes “Go All In” I said yes. At that point I had not even listened to a podcast (I have now of course). Nervous yes. Regretting my decision no. I decided while sitting in my car outside the podcast studio, performing a breathing relaxation meditation, that I would relinquish control to those who knew what they were doing and pretty much wing it. So much fun. Even interviewed a couple of guests myself. The adrenalin of the unknown was intoxicating and I now have a new self-management mantra:
You don’t always have to be in control, trust the expert.
I also realised that to keep Kirsty the kid alive and jumping in I need to be constantly sifting the cynicism of so-called ‘experience’ that creeps in as we traverse life. Kirsty the kid would jump in, given it a go, said yes more often than Kirsty the adult. I had lost some of that naïve confidence over the years but it was not gone, just a little jaded. So I have decided to back peddled a little and when I consider a new project I say to myself ‘what would Kirsty the kid do?’ she would say:
I don’t need to know everything, I just need to start
When anyone asks me, ‘do you know what you are doing?’ I think, maybe not, but most of the time, I can figure it out.
Ahhh, a note to airline pilots, no winging it for you lot!
Kirstys blog on communication and careers is widely read by over 20,000 members on LinkedIn and Facebook and www.pinstripesolutions.com
Kirsty’s first book “The Albino Chameleon – Building The Story Of You” will be available in the second half of 2019.
Kirsty has lectured at Sydney University and Griffith University on careers, communication, aviation and self-confidence and is an industry leader in aviation interview preparation.