My wife and I spent last night watching ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” Now, Lord knows I’m no great dancer, but it’s fun to watch the amateurs improve, especially those who clearly go into this show without a clue.
What struck me in particular was one competitor who I really don’t consider an amateur. She’s Shawn Johnson, a 17-year-old 2008 Olympic gold medal gymnast who also sung the national anthem at last years Democratic National Convention. She’s also the youngest competitor on the show, ever.
Now, I think that it’s kind of unfair to set up other dance competitors like Steve Wozniak, one of Apple Computer’s co-founders and basically a hefty and much older geek, against the likes of a 17-year-old Olympian.
Shawn did a fantastic job, and earned high scores for her performance from the dance judges. However, what really hit me was not her dancing, but her demeanor. She was the classic perky teen. Huge, bright smile, incredible energy, and total enthusiasm. I realized at that moment that what she exuded naturally is exactly what I try to get adults to find and experience in themselves everyday. Why is it so hard for most people to find what this young lady has so naturally?
All of us, at some young point in our lives, knew how to have fun. We knew how to take on life without fear or hesitation. And we did what we loved, regardless of opposition.
Then something happened. We “grew up.” And, after many years of playing the grown up, many of us are now trying to find those same youthful personality characteristics in ourselves again. We need them!
We read books, work with coaches, and try to learn how to be at our “best.” But all we are doing is learning how to “unlearn” all of that serious “grown-up” acting that we took on back then so that we could survive and thrive in a grown-up world.
Well, guess what, we were wrong. We are all wrong. You want to excel? You want to kick a** in life? Don’t grow up! Hold onto all of those child-like characteristics that make young people like Shawn a champion at everything she attempts. And if you have already grown up, then it’s time to regress.
Get in touch with your childhood. Remember your life as it used to be. Remember what it’s like to play! Because living with passion doesn’t mean trying to use more energy than you have so that you can push the world in front of you. Passion is the word that describes what naturally exudes from anyone who is playing at what they love. Play at life, and success in whatever you love will come easily. Not easily because it requires no exertion. But easy because having fun is a pleasure.
Talk to you soon,