One morning at a breakfast meeting, I was determined to exercise my will power and determination by walking past the counter with the fresh baked pastries, homemade donuts, pies and cookies. It turned out to be an easier task than I originally had envisioned due to the image that caught my eye, in the corner of the restaurant. Oblivious to the tempting treats, sat a young boy with eyes fixated on a computer screen. My first reaction was my mind frustrated by the obsession of the youth of our country seemingly dependent on internet activity rather than personal interaction with peers or parents. Then I noticed the smile on his face, completely at peace and satisfied with that particular moment in time. It was the smile of a child, enjoying life. I walked back to my table wondering when was the last time someone saw a similar smile on my face.
When do we lose the smile? Is it taken from us by worries of potential pitfalls lurking around the corner? Maybe from the financial pressures of everyday life? Does our face stiffen and eyes lose their sparkle from carrying traumatic events from our past? You know the ones that are behind us yet are still never far from the surface of our thoughts, trying to steal our attention away from hope and unfulfilled dreams. Does it disappear from the blurriness of hectic life as we attempt to juggle our daily calendars?
Today my goal is for someone to see the child smile on my face. I know I am supposed to behave like an adult and leave childish ways behind me. As a leader, my role is to create an atmosphere that releases creativity, increases productivity and bonds my group to each other and me. My suggestion is to use two principles that fuel the smile of a child.
I’m supposed to know the answers. As a leader, a father, a husband I’m supposed to be the go-to guy who has all the answers. At least that is the pressure I put on my shoulders. As I look at the actions of people it is easy for me to see the error of their ways, the “if only’s” that should they have taken a different direction, usually one that I agreed with, would have generated much different results for them (that of course aligns with my beliefs on how the universe should work). Yet, the smile of a child made me stop this morning and look at the sky instead of the traffic, notice the leaves on the trees in my backyard instead of hurrying my dog to finish her business. It made me wonder before answering an email, thinking of the frustration someone was experiencing rather than my curt direction or correction. Am I walking through my day with resolve instead of experiencing the wonder that God places around us for our enjoyment and to reveal His nature and nurture?
Paying bills is not one of my most favorite tasks. Neither is taking out the garbage or handling pressure that coincides with leading a team of people through a frustrating economic period. I get tired of the political maneuvering by some in government operating supposedly in my best interests, yet postering for stature or power. With all that weighs on my mind, a question that I seldom allow myself to ask is “did I play today?” When did I stop to read something that made me smile instead of the latest Hollywood outburst? Did I slow down, sneak up on my wife to surprise her with a flower picked as I walked into the house? Have I done something that others might describe as silly? As children we did, but somewhere along the way we become focused on the potential perception of someone who is not near the top of list of people who truly are significant in our lives. When I play, usually it means someone near me will be smiling before I finish. What a gift to both of us.
Why don’t we get as many people as we can to the playground today? You don’t even have to leave your office or home. Just look for steps to take that are guided by play and wonder. Then maybe someone will look at you and be captivated by the smile of a child.