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6 Things We Can Learn From Children’s Views On Success

6 Things We Can Learn From Children’s Views On Success

As Bill Cosby taught us, kids say the darndest things. But they also offer wisdom well beyond their years. As adults, we have had years of filtering, of being politically correct, of literally learning to shelter our opinion. We’ve learned not offend anyone or worse, make a fool of ourselves. We focus on what we are good at and what we can do, unlike a child who literally believes they can be anything. And while many of us won’t end up being or doing what our five-year-old version wanted us to, there are lessons to be learned from the innocence and wisdom of a child. Here are six things we can learn from children’s views on success.

1. When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut.

What we can learn? It’s okay to shoot for the stars. There’s something to be said for taking on big, huge goals. While being shot to the moon in a rocket most likely isn’t in the cards, there are other big, audacious, hairy goals that you can accomplish. Take the chance and do it. Your six-year-old self will be proud.

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2. When I grow up, I want to be a princess.

What we can learn? Love, magic, and the storybook ending may not be overly realistic, but there should be a romantic quality to your life, no matter what the age. Finding and pursuing your passions is an important part of being a truly successful, happy person. So maybe you realize you can’t be a princess anymore, since, well, that job is being masterfully handled by Kate Middleton, but you can find and embrace your passions. Your seven-year-old self will appreciate the storybook ending.

3. When I grow up, I want to have a lot of friends.

What we can learn? Relationships matter. And not just the romantic type. Being successful isn’t just defined by the career you choose, but rather the relationships you forge and the people whom you love and who love you. It’s easy, as adults, to focus only on your career and family, but having friends you ‘choose’ is one of the most important parts of a healthy, balanced life. So keep in touch with your friends from high school, have dinner with your co-workers, and reconnect with your best friend growing up. Your 11-year-old self will love catching up with old friends, and you will too.

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4. When I grow up, I want to be big and strong.

What we can learn? You’re body is a temple. Treat it like one, or your success can be cut short. Stay active and take care of your body. Whether you exercise 30 minutes a day, eat healthy, or better yet both, you’ll improve your health, live longer, and be happier. And you’ll make your three-year-old self quite proud.

5. When I grow up, I want to be like Mommy/Daddy and make them proud.

What we can learn? It’s okay to be like your parents. The 15-year-old version of your self is likely cringing at the thought, but your parents have taught you much. Whether it’s lessons as simple as how to ride a bike (persistence), how to act in public (respect), or how to run a company (ethics), those lessons were vital in your upbringing. Taking these lessons and applying them to your adult life can help ensure you maintain your personal moral compass and make your parents proud. Your eight-year-old self will approve.

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6. When I grow up, I want to fly.

What we can learn? There’s no challenge that you can’t overcome. Wanting to fly seems like an incredibly naive request, but often looking past what something seems to be and getting to the root of it can help you uncover a world of possibilities. We know you will not grow wings anytime soon, but one can certainly fly. Whether in a hot air balloon, as a pilot of a private plane, or by hang-gliding high above the ocean, you can accomplish even the most absurd-sounding dreams if you take a step back and find a creative approach.

Many of our childhood dreams are just that, childish. But there’s something that can be learned from the innocence of a child. And that spirit can easily be lost as an adult. Find ways to still dream big and accomplish your goals. Your 13-year-old self will definitely approve.

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Featured photo credit: ToniVC via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Founder, BrandingBeard.com

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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