What children could teach businesses and entrepreneurs about daydreaming
I’ve never wanted to have children and remember declaring to my grandfather at the age of 10 that I wasn’t having them. He always said ‘wait and see, you’ll change your mind’ but I never did. That is not to say I haven’t enjoyed many childhood lessons from my friends’ children.
My close girlfriends have all had children ranging in ages from 2-14 now. As adopted ‘Aunty Pam’ I often watch or listen fascinated by what the kids say and do. It frequently reminds me that we could all well do with remembering back to when we thought like children in our adult work lives. Some childlike traits I try to emulate in my own working life.
Daydreaming- childhood lessons for business
When was the last time you sat staring out of the window and letting your mind free-wheel? Children’s imaginations know no limits. They are yet to be ground down by responsibility or social conditioning so their minds are free to wander off and dream of improbable possibilities and come up with crazy ideas that, some, might just work.
“How do you do Nothing,” asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, Nothing,’ and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
“Oh!” said Pooh.”
We are constantly bombarded by all types of noise and interference in everyday life. Traffic, TV, light pollution, the unnoticed hum from electrical equipment.
We would do well to get out in the fresh air every now and then. Sit and stare at clouds and make pictures from them. Breathe deeply and switch off thought processes. Pay attention to the silly things that pop into your mind – some can be really creative and worth exploring further. I find some of them are absolutely nuggets of gold. Others have commented that they have no idea where I get my ideas from (in an impressed way). Little do they know it’s from a brain that is idling and has given room and time to imagination.
The value of daydreaming
Some of our most enjoyable experiences are the result of others’ daydreaming. Childhood may be about Maths, Science, and English in school but the real lessons learned are the development of curiosity, possibility and the absolute fascination with discovery that children are so good at. Without this capacity for daydreaming, we would never have been thrilled by Star Wars.
I’m not much of a math and science guy. I spent most of my time in school daydreaming and managed to turn it into a living.
Or enjoyed extraordinary tales from writers such as Neil Gaiman
You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.
The Science of daydreaming
It is not just the Arts that benefit from daydreaming. Many scientists argue that through daydreaming they access previously hidden ideas and in a daydreaming state the jigsaw puzzle of ideas gets assembled. Your brain is not dormant when you daydream- quite the opposite. There is a lot of activity going on in what they call the working memory. This is your ability to recall things even when you are being distracted by several tasks. We may daydream to escape a boring repetitive task or because we are unhappy with our work, but it also provides us solutions to nagging problems in the backs of our minds.
Daydreaming can be productive
Children seemingly are able to do absolutely nothing for long periods of time, when in fact they are learning at a terrifying rate. They are soaking up information from their environment faster than us adults and also enjoying fantastic adventures in their heads. The result of all this daydreaming? Long periods of silence followed by incessant “why” questions as they try to make sense of their surroundings. Allowing the brain to “wander” triggers thoughts and questions that need answers. Similarly allowing this apparent rest period for the brain also brings clarity and untangles the conflicting information in our heads.
Visualisation techniques are a sort of focused daydreaming and for some people allow them to create tangible goals for success. Meditation is an enforced rest for the brain, quieting those clamorous thoughts.
I enjoy daydreaming as children do- seeing picture in clouds and deliberately not thinking about anything. When I give myself permission NOT to think and focus on the next task that looms, my mind takes flight. Some daydreams are technicolour masterpieces, others simple black and white line drawings…they all have value.
So, the next time you see a colleague daydreaming, imagine they may well be creating the next amazing book, scientific breakthrough, or, perhaps, they are just giving their brain a well-deserved rest from the noise of the 21st century.