You all remember the poem by Robert Fulghum “All I Really Need To Know I learned In Kindergarten”. Here is a little reminder:
“All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
These are the things I learned:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don’t hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
There is so much I love about this wisdom. I truly think it can be a guide for global leadership.
Today, I am focusing on one part: “Hold Hands and Stick Together”. A post on PsyBlog by Dr. Jeremy Dean titled “Neuroscience Reveals The Deep Power of Human Empathy” caught my attention. I have studied Empathy for years, and it makes a consistent appearance in my keynotes, workshops and consulting practice. In the study Dr. Dean cites, participants who held hands with a friend who was receiving a shock registered the same brain activity as the friend who actually received the shock. Interestingly, that was not the case when the participants held the hand of a stranger.
It is well established that we perform better when we view each other as “friend” versus “foe”. Check out David Rock’s SCARF Model and read about how our brains perform differently when we are in avoidance (threat, negative) mode, versus when we are in approach (reward, positive) mode. Decision Neuroscience Lab‘s publication “Friend or foe: The effect of implicit trustworthiness judgments in social decision-making” similarly shows that seeing each other as friend versus enemy affects how we make decision, and the quality of the decisions we make.
If we are interested in creating workplaces, homes and schools in which people can perform at their best, then we need to create environments that foster trust and friendship.
Some might argue that is exactly what we attempt to do by creating ice-breaker exercises, facilitating networking events, and planning activities to bring people together around common interests. All of those are wonderful and go directly toward facilitating friendly interactions.
I wonder what else we can do. Every day. All day. Rather than only staging and participating in ‘activities’ per se, how about starting each day with the intention, the belief that everyone you meet at work or school is your friend. That they are with you rather than against you, that they want to cooperate with you rather than compete with you, that they are worthy of your trust and you are worthy of theirs.
What difference might that make to the lives of us all. It will certainly make all of those ‘activities’ we partake in at meetings and conferences go alot more smoothly (yes, I have seen those eye rolls – and I think I have rolled mine a time or two also – when an activity is being introduced). I think it will also make every moment of every day just a little bit better for us all! Let’s be friends, hold hands, and stick together.
What do you think? Are you with me?
Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), the international measure of excellence for professional competence, proven experience, and optimal client satisfaction. Deri combines a business degree in human resources management with 20 years of experience engaging audiences across every business sector. Deri provides inspiration and information to create psychologically healthy organizations for increased positivity, productivity, and profitability!