Before humans think things about themselves – before we’re self conscious – we’re just conscious. In that state, all is well. There’s no separation being created through our stories and interpretations of events. Instinct and intuition guide and direct.
Think of babies. All is well until it’s not, and they make it known. This isn’t done not by conscious thought but by instinct, and they tell without words.
One of the most influential leaders ever, told his disciples to become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven.
What did Jesus know about children?
He must’ve known their inherent nature, because for one, you don’t see babies in therapy.
Maybe he knew a similar thing Wendell Berry knows about nature:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things…
The wild things are born without consciousness of themselves. In other words, they don’t think about their thoughts. Wild things follow their instinct and live in the zone and flow of life. And like most of us have experienced with nature, it reminds the self to relax. To breathe. To enjoy. To accept. To be One with the zone and flow of life as well.
Just like children.
Now wait, I’ve got two children, so I hear what you might be saying: My children are not at peace. They cry; they whine. They sulk and cause drama. They fight me at every request. They’re (fill in the blank)…
They’re also innocent – learning from the adults around them (also innocent) how to be conscious of self while still inherently remembering their place as part of the collective whole.
So when a brilliant leader like Jesus says to become like children, I think he meant that adults have a lot of unlearning to do.
I ruminated with a leader in education about the irony of the push to implement social/emotional programs to help children, while many adults are unaware of emotional intelligence themselves.
An article I recently read suggested that many parents give children the message that anger, sadness or frustration are unacceptable because these emotions are viewed as a problem that urgently need solved.
This makes sense. With many adults, these emotions are also viewed as problems needing urgent solutions. We have to fix sadness. We’re uncomfortable with anger. We avoid boredom. But to be emotionally intelligent, we need to know that all emotion tells us something and we can stop labeling it either good or bad.
It’s part of the human experience.
Are emotionally intelligent leaders teaching emotional intelligence?
Perhaps some leaders are children, ushering us innocently into a place of peace, contentment, and happiness.
What would it look like to follow their lead?
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Reflect: When was the last time you had an innate knowing all really is well? When have you witnessed a child wise beyond their years?