There is a time in our lives, a slipping point, where we travel an arc from belief to disbelief. Or more specifically from when we go from believing in magic to the complete acceptance that it can't or doesn't exist. We want cold, clear facts. We want to solve mysteries. We want to see behind the smoke and mirrors. We can't predict when it happens, whether we are 7, 17 or 40 but it seems to impact almost everyone.
Years ago, I attended a global meeting of my then company. We had a special speaker from Nike, Inc. come in. He was young, spirited, dynamic. At one point early on, he asked this room of thousands of people, "Raise your hand if you are creative." A paltry number of people raised their hands. He asked the question again, louder, with more emphasis. The same response. He knew his audience. This was a top shelf company and the group in the room were some of our biggest performers. He explained that when he asked a room of 2nd graders the same question, almost every single child would raise their hand. He then discussed how we as adults limit ourselves as we limit our thinking, especially as it pertains to our own capabilities.
A few minutes later, he held up a large, bright blue glass bottle. He said, "In this, I have magic. Who wants some?" Not a single person moved. He said again, "IN THIS I have MAGIC. Come to the front of the stage if you want some." Still no one rose. He went on for the next hour talking about magic, creativity, motivation and why these are critical values at Nike. At the end of the presentation, he presented the blue bottle again, and this time hundreds of people went to the front of that stage to absorb his magic, his electricity, his own powerful belief that yes, anything is possible.
MiniMac is quite particular about his clothing. He likes tiny versions of basically the same clothes my husband wears: collared shirts, golf shorts, flip flops, tiny aviator sunglasses. But did you see the movie Big Daddy? There is a portion of the movie where the young boy decides he wants to dress himself and go by the name Frankenstein. Once in awhile, MiniMac makes a costume change and appears ready to go as is, to which JMac and I simply reply, "You look good, Frankenstein." The first time was as a 2.5 year old he wanted to wear his University of Georgia football helmet into the grocery store. Another time was when he asked to wear his Toy Story pjs and Buzz Lightyear slipper boots to the movies. Several weeks ago, he dressed for school and then came to the kitchen ready to go.
I told him I liked his cape. He advised me it was so he could fly on the playground. "And the antlers?" I asked. He told me the antlers were like Rudolph's, who can also fly. One way or another, this kid was flying today. And it was an amazing rewind to that day, in that meeting, where we talked about the power of creativity and how we as adults limit ourselves by limiting that creativity. I am not suggesting we sit in board meetings with antlers or capes. But it reminded of the time in our lives when we thought anything was possible.
And when we were kids no one would even dream of telling us we couldn't do it all.
As I watched my son traipse into school that day, cape and anters on, and yes, walking through sunbeams, he believed anything was possible. Like I used to believe as well, just as you did. When you believed you could fly with one magical cape. Or you could grow up to be a super hero. Or that Santa Clause would come to your birthday party if only you asked him. This was the time you believed you would see a unicorn, catch a dragon, leap tall buildings in a single bound. This was also the time when kisses healed boo boos and all you needed to overcome fear was a hand to hold.
When we picked him up at school later that day, he still had the cape on. Later that night, we read a book full of castles and dragons. MiniMac told me he caught a dragon once too. I asked when and he said, "You know, when I was King..."
Its full acceptance of creativity and perhaps the best demonstration of Descartes philosophy: I think, therefore I am.
I talked to a friend the other day who is going through some life-altering challenges right now. He is brave and smart and amazing. But he definitely is underneath it right now. And I asked him if he remembered the time when he knew he was a phenomenal kick-ass producer of great results. He asked half-mockingly, 'Right, when was that again?'
You know, when you were King.