Apparently there was study undertaken by a US university to work out what made the TV show The Simpsons so popular. One of reasons the study uncovered was that Homer was never in more than one emotional state (or mood if you like) for more than about 30 seconds, which apparently made it more compelling viewing.
So what does that have to do with my 2 year old, and the contents of a personal development blog? Well, my little one is similar to Homer in that she can flick from one state to another quite rapidly. Fun playing can turn to tantrum and back again in matter of seconds….not unusual for a toddler….but what I find even more interesting is how this relates to her perception of her capabilities (or ‘performance’ as we would call it in the workplace).
For example, on a recent outing to the playground, she quite literally leapt at the chance to go on the ‘big kids slide’ (the one my wife would never let her go near) and managed it calmly and effortlessly. The next day, we made the same journey to the playground and I suggested she go on the very same slide. Only to be met with a very vocal protest of “Noooo – I can’t do it Daddy” and total resistance to the belief that she can do it.
On the same note, we often we have 2 1/2 hour car journey to the grandparents. On some occasions she can be self-occupied and very low maintenance – almost in a trance – while on others I began to wonder why there aren’t more toddlers left abandoned on the hard shoulder…..
So what is the the learning from this? Well 2 main things really. Firstly, as opposed to Homer Simpson or toddlers, most adults tend to have a less overt realisation on what is stopping us from doing something – is it our capability, our desire or our state? So a good question to get used to asking yourself is ‘what is really stopping me? My desire, my capability or my state?’ Is it just that you do not have the desire to do it (authentically, as opposed to not wanting to do it because you are scared); because you literally are not able to do this (ie. do not have the capability); or because you are not in the mood to do this now (state)?
Of course the other joy of being Homer, or a 2 year old, is that negative states don’t hang around very long so there is no dwelling on the past, or reflecting on events and beating yourself up….they just move almost effortlessly from one state to another. So unless you like hanging on needlessly to your negative state, learn from a 2 year old…