Lessons from my children

I was rustling through some files today and found my Toastmasters speech number 3. The original title was: Enduring life lessons from my children, and it made me smile.

This got some help from different sources, and this version is slightly modified…


I’ll like to begin my speech today with a little conversation between an adult and a child taken from the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte:

Adult: “No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,” he began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”

Child: “They go to hell,” answered the child

Adult: “And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”

Child: “A pit full of fire.”

Adult: “And would you like to fall into that pit and burn there forever?”

Child: “No, sir.”

Adult: “So, what must you do to avoid this?”

The child deliberated for a moment and then answered quite convincingly: “I must keep in good health and not die.”

Such, is the innocence of a child!

Childhood is the world of magic: all things are new and fresh and astonishing. But beware! Childhood is over the moment things are no longer astonishing. When the world gives you a feeling of “déjà vu,” when you become used to existence, then…my friend, you become an adult – Eugene Ionesco

But you can still learn many things from children. Have you ever noticed a child completely engrossed in something? They have this unusual ability to combine business with pleasure so to speak, they can be serious about what they’re doing without taking it too seriously. You can do the same with your life. You can make every day more fulfilling by devoting the required attention to the things you do without necessarily taking it ‘too seriously’.

Now let’s see if we can apply some of the lessons of childhood to our adult lives.

Our number one lesson today is…

1. CURIOSITY – For a child, there’s only one way to find out how something works – Break it apart! COMPLETELY! The good news is, this is still good advice whenever we’re faced with a complex problem, or project. Just break it down! Giving a speech seems daunting, so give the vote of thanks or do table topics; writing a book seems daunting, so start by writing an essay. If an essay is too much, then start by writing a paragraph. The important thing is to break it to pieces, and attack it piece by piece. This agrees completely with the principle of thinking big and starting small. Once you have attempted something, it is easier to judge what needs to be done, and your ability to do it better. It’s also much easier to improve something that already exists than to work on one that doesn’t.

2. QUESTIONS: In the past few weeks, I have read so much about the importance of questions. It’s been said that the quality of your questions will determine the quality of your life. Questions are the answers!

Just watch the children. Asking questions is how they figure things out. Lots and lots of questions. Mummy, what are you doing? Why? Are we going with you? Why?

Children ask anything that comes to mind, and they never relent until they get an answer. Our brains are wired to be curious. As we grow up and “mature” many of us stifle our natural curiosity. Let yourself be curious! Wonder to yourself about why things are happening. Ask someone who knows. The best way to exercise our curiosity is by asking “Why?” Make it a new habit to ask “why?” several times a day. You will be amazed at how many opportunities and solutions show up in your life.

Next is…

3. MODERATION. My 2-year old daughter knows too well that too much of anything will give you tummy ache. And when she has had her fill, she will declare: “Mummy, I’m okay. See! My tummy is big!”

Those who over-exercise will burn out. Those who don’t will become obese. Okay, fat is a milder word. A boy who studies all the time has no friends. Another who only makes friends fails his exams. Extremity often leads to pain. Moderation is the key to living life the way it is meant to be lived.

Lesson number 4 is about…

4. FRIENDSHIP – My older daughter, who is about three and half declares that her sister is her best friend! And she makes me jealous of her loyalty to her little best friend. You dare not offer her anything, if you didn’t have one for her friend. And if you choose to punish one, get ready to punish both. So, my advice to you is to try to be the friend you were when you were three and half: fun-loving and loyal, with no strings attached. The famous saying that “a friend in need is a friend indeed” tells us half the story of loyalty. A friend in triumph may be even harder to find. Loyal friends not only lend a hand when you’re in need; they applaud your successes and cheer you along without envy when you prosper. Will you be that loyal friend?

Finally, when you act more like a child, you tend to live more in the present rather than worry about the past or the future. And this makes the world open up to you, and you start enjoying every bit of it again. Do you know what the real trouble with the world is? Well Walt Disney provides an answer – Too many people grow up! That’s the real trouble with the world.

The Toastmaster!

N.B: Found this in my archives. Was written in 2013. But the lessons are way still valid….

Don’t forget to share! Hearty Cheers!


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