The phrase ‘sleep like a baby’ has been around for goodness knows how long and is usually used after a wonderfully delightful nights sleep. Clearly the people who use this phrase are not parents because let’s be honest, I don’t really want to sleep like a baby. They spend a lot of the night huffing and puffing, waking and sometimes crying, feeding or at worst dealing with the discomfort of teething. Sure babies get a lot of sleep but their night times aren’t always a long relaxed period of bed rest. No, I’d rather sleep well than ‘sleep like a baby’. But learning…well that’s a different matter. Watching Little Z as she investigates the world around her, figuring out how things work, the one thing I would like to imitate is how babies approach learning. I think we could all take a leaf out of their books.
As adults we are so focused on (consciously or otherwise) on the risk of failure. So many of us are more concerned about others seeing us as incapable than with not learning a new skill or accomplishing a goal. I’m not even sure at what point I personally became concerned by how others saw me. Whilst elements of self-doubt crept in during teenage years, I know I still felt the desire to propel myself forward regardless during that time and through university. But the years of examinations followed by the performance reviews at work do make life feel like a continual cycle of assessment. Perhaps feeling a little watched, and judged, is unavoidable.
As a mother to two young children, I watch how they try new things and I feel I should really be taking a lesson from them. Little Z will try something again and again until she either masters it or gets bored for the time being and goes to practice something else. Her curious eyes search out for new intrigues and her little fingers roam into all nooks and crannies as she tries to find hidden gems. At 4, Little H no longer has the same persistence or tenacity as her sister. However, this is mainly due to a lack of patience that comes with being a fidgety pre-schooler. There is certainly no self-consciousness or self-doubt there in a big scale. And the curiosity remains strong with “Why?”s at every turn!
Strangely at work is where I feel this fear the least. I learnt to surrender my pride many years ago and ask the obvious questions; it’s what my role demands and often unearths interesting gaps or challenges anyway. But the fear is still there a little in the form of Imposter Syndrome. So as I watch Little Z brave her first solo steps, I remind myself that some of the new learning I am having to do post maternity leave really doesn’t have to be an intimidating as it feels .
Perhaps we can all take after the youngest members of society and be more curious. To start trying over and over. To stop worrying about what others might think and say. Because whilst we may not have the boundless energy of a post-nap babe, we can certainly make better use of the energy we do have if we don’t waste it being plagued by self-doubt and paranoia. So maybe that will be my new mantra – learn like a baby!