Professional Development

Childish or childlike? There’s a world of difference

Kirsty Dunphey /

Having spent a lot of time in previous years speaking at or attending conferences, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some amazing people take the stage and captivate me for an hour or more.

A few years ago a keynote speaker at a conference was unknown to me. I did a little research on him prior to the event and wasn’t sure his talk would appeal to me, it seemed he was quite focused on art and creativity and I wasn’t sure I’d get as much out of his talk as the straight business/real estate speakers I was hoping to see.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Today, years on from hearing him speak just once, what he spoke about impacts the way I try to live my life, run my business, and interact with my children.

So of course when this speaker, Erik Wahl, released his new book, Unthink, I pre-ordered my copy straight away (well, my husband did as my Mother’s Day present!)

I’ve only just started reading the book, but I’m already reminded of so much of what I loved about seeing Erik on stage.

In the chapter I’ve just read – he talks about being childlike (as opposed to childish). Isn’t it funny the two different connotations those almost identical words have.

You’d probably be horrified if your boss or workmates described you as childish – but to be childlike. I can see so much benefit in that.

Someone who is childlike:

  • asks “why” – they want explore and dig deeper into the meaning of things and they question the status quo all the time
  • pushes the boundaries – as my 2.5-year-old is teaching me every day with her constant negotiations (five more strawberries, 10 last minutes playing mamma!)
  • plays – a child has a huge imagination and would jump at the chance to play make believe – can the same be said of you when someone suggests role playing?

I can’t wait to get stuck into the rest of this book and couldn’t more highly recommend, if you get the chance (or can make the chance!), to go and see Erik Wahl on stage. I hope to do it again myself soon!

From broke at 19 to retired at 27, Kirsty Dunphey is an entrepreneur, mother and author, and lives by the motto Memento Vivere (remember to live).