As kids we have grand dreams. We slay dragons. We save cities. We fly without wings.
As kids, everything is possible. Nothing is impossible.
Ask us what we want to be when we grow up and we answer ballerina or fireman or famous actor or doctor. We answer with certainty, as if nothing in the world could get in the way of our dreams being fulfilled.
Twenty years later, the ballerina stacks shelves in a supermarket, the fireman is a car park cashier and the famous actor is a traffic warden.
Only the doctor has become a doctor. As a child she imagined herself saving sick babies in exotic countries. The reality is that she works in a suburban medical centre where she’s expected to see 8 patients every hour, 64 in a day.
What has happened to those childhood dreams?
Who is the killer of our aspirations?
It isn’t our teachers – although I agree with Sir Ken Robinson that education kills creativity.
It isn’t our parents – even if they encourage us to get a real job and dissuade us from pursuing our artistic desire.
It isn’t our circle of friends – even if they exert covert pressure to conform to their dress code, tastes and world views.
It isn’t our employer – even if we’re clearly expected to efficiently and unquestioningly perform the function for which we’re hired – and nothing more.
It isn’t our family or neighbours or accountant.
So whom does that leave?
I’m sorry to say it’s us – and us alone.
We all have a voice deep inside us that stops us from achieving our full potential.
Somewhere along the way, the inner child that believes we can do anything is replaced by a policeman.
We live in an entrepreneurial age. There are signs that creativity is starting to get the respect it deserves. Recruiters are looking for signs of a candidate’s creative flair. Colleges use the words creativity and innovation in their prospectuses. Even quite staid businesses now have Directors of Innovation and Creative Directors.
So now we’re expected to overcome decades of creative suppression, rid ourselves of our inner policeman and find our inner child once more.
The good news is that it can be done. Our creativity, our ability to dream, and to ask naïve questions haven’t disappeared. They are waiting for us to rediscover them.
If we give ourselves the opportunity to create, if we believe we can and we learn some simple creative thinking techniques, our inner child will soon re-emerge.
When that happens, our lives will be transformed.
We will become happier.
We will be more productive.
Ideas will come naturally. Big ideas that our old stifled self couldn’t have imagined.
We will have the self-confidence to pursue our dreams.
We won’t die wondering.