Everyone kid gets asked what they want to be when they grow up. Do you remember what you said? Did it happen?
Somewhere in the mid-2000s, I remembered a vignette from my childhood for the first time in decades, which was someone asking that question of me and my response, which was to say I wanted to be an inventor.
I didn’t remember it in the meantime because of what the person said next. I don’t remember who it was, but it was at my grandmother’s house, so it was probably a great aunt, great uncle or someone from two generations back.
The person replied with perhaps the most obvious question from the perspective of the person asking, but not from the child’s perspective, which was “What are you going to invent?”
From my perspective at the time, this question was crushing. I mean, you have this idea you’re going to come up with something new, then a person puts you on the spot to invent something then and there and of course you can’t, so you feel disappointed and frustrated.
I think I remember adults asking a lot of dumb questions and saying a lot of dumb things. They seemed always to want me to know how big I was the last time I saw them. Not until I was an adult interacting with my nieces and nephews did I realize you want to say that because it’s the first thing that comes to mind when they grow so quickly.
I never lost the perspective that that information was useless for a child and boring to hear from so many people, so I’ve endeavored to avoid saying things not interesting to the kids. I do my best to look from their perspective, see what’s interesting to them, and connect on those things.
I think connecting on what’s interesting to them connects more effectively — not just with kids but with everyone. It also helps you see more things in new ways too.
Anyway, I ended up becoming an inventor so my childhood dream happened, although I had repressed that memory in the meantime. And I learned an effective way to connect with kids.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees