This may take you by surprise – a blog article by a business advisor that is NOT about business. Nor about work, or management, or profitability, time management, productivity, efficiency and so on. And especially not about a pandemic. No, I want to share a few words about child’s play….and how important it is.

Recently, I listened to a radio interview with an amazing 7-year-old girl – little in age but a giant in her thought processes and the message she had to share. Molly Wright is a Grade 2 student from Queensland who, in mid-2021, became one of the youngest ever presenters of a TED Talk when she got a standing ovation from her audience after her presentation entitled “How Every Child Can Thrive By Five” or, as she started her speech by saying, “What if I was to tell you that a game of peek-a-boo could change the world?”

I’ll try and summarise the key points but you’d be well advised to click here and listen to her TED talk – it will take just on 7 minutes of your time that will not be wasted. Molly firmly believes that the first five years of life are vitally important to a child’s health and development, especially that of their brains. Get it right in those initial 5 years (and 9 months), and you’ve likely got it right for their entire future as they grow and mature as responsible, intelligent adults.  

According to the experts, and Molly seems to be fast becoming one of those even at such a young age, healthy development depends on five top things: connecting; talking; playing; a healthy home; and community. It is also vital that you provide all of this early, and often – start before they are born, and never stop.

So what’s all this got to do with business? Well, one of the most common themes I hear in my role on why owning your own business isn’t all it was cracked up to be when you started, is “not enough time with family” – and Molly is reinforcing the point that you must spend time with your family, especially (but not exclusively) the youngest members. But not just your immediate family – this applies to Mums and Dads of course, but also to grandparents, uncles & aunts, friends, next door neighbours. In fact, anyone who has any connection to a child whatsoever. I am extremely privileged to live right next door to 3 of my grandchildren aged 5 years, 3 years and just 6 months, and whilst it’s sometimes an interruption I could probably do without when I’m busy with some aspect of my job, is it really so? It might be the most important thing that a 5 year old has on his mind right now, and Grandad is just the person to tell all about it – and to ignore or dismiss it now could be the first step towards suddenly discovering that he’s 18 and about to leave home…and you’ve missed the whole growing up thing. Because you were “too busy”.

Don’t be so busy that your business thrives (maybe) but the children you know suffer – play a game of peek-a-boo with them; read them a story, have a laugh and some fun with them…just talk with them and find out what’s on their mind! Basically just take the time to interact, as often as you possibly can. Whether you know it or not, doing the right thing with them teaches kids some of their most important life skills, makes them feel wanted and safe, and teaches them trust. The sort of  things that will have a lifelong and positive impact.

This is a nice short article – deliberately so. Now that you’re almost at the end, maybe you’ve saved 5 minutes by not having to read another 500 or more words. So go play peek-a-boo with your nearest future adult. Believe me, your business will still be there when you’ve done so…