I love Curious George. I cuddled a plush Curious George to sleep for years and have spent many waking hours reading his stories.
Given that he is my oldest love, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me this morning to realize that Curious George’s values sit at the centre of my coaching style. This doesn’t mean guiding my clients to make really cool newspaper boats (and hats). It means inspiring people to find joy and courage through curiosity, laughter and kindness. Curious George did that everywhere he went, inspiring me as a child and as an adult.
I love paying it forward.
Parenting can be really hard. Parents are doing A LOT. We’re taking care of ourselves, our children, our jobs, our communities, our families, our houses… It’s a long list and every item is charged with responsibility and importance. No wonder parents feel stressed and overwhelmed so much of the time. All of these items – our children, our mortgage, job stresses, health challenges – seem fixed out of control, it can be easy to feel that we just need to wait until they’re over to feel more joy and less stress.
Yet, as Gilda Radner said, “It’s always something.”
When my husband and I started paying daycare fees for our oldest child we said, “Wow – that’s like a mortgage payment.” Nine years and two more children later, the end was in sight. We happily started planning what we might do with all these new-found dollars. Except, we hadn’t anticipated the kids’ sport-related costs…and school related costs…and clothing related costs (don’t get me started on shoes and boots) and the list goes on.
Parenting is a challenging time. Happily, Curious George holds a lot of the answers. Through Curious George, we learn the value of:
and most of all
Bringing more of these qualities into our lives is like sunshine and rain to flowers. We don’t have to wait until the hard parts are behind us. Practicing Curious George’s values increases their presence in our lives. The inspiring part for me is that we get more of these qualities simply by increasing our practice of them.
The key is designing the practices the work best for each person. This is the space that I’m excitedly building for myself. At the centre of my coaching business is helping people design the practices that will lead to the greatest positive impact for them.
I recently piloted a Kindness Challenge to see if a 5-minute daily Kindness activity would increase people’s well-being – as indicated by physical health, relationship satisfaction, negative stress and engagement. Early reports are showing a strong trend towards positive growth in every area. Anecdotally, people are reporting feeling kinder and experiencing more kindness – even a month after the Kindness Challenge ended. Given that it’s hard to feel kindness and stress at the same time, I believe if people are feeling more kindness than they are feeling less overwhelmed.
This framework – focusing on elements that don’t coexist well together can be an effective way of making changes. It means focusing on positive practices versus eliminating negative practices.
Here’s what we get if we practice Curious George’s values:
More Kindness = less Stress
More Laughter = less Stress
More Courage = less Fear
More Curiosity = less Fear
Curious George isn’t perfect – he gets into a fair amount of trouble and makes numerous mistakes (although really, didn’t the room full of suds look like so much fun?). When people forgive Curious George, it isn’t because of his pledges to reduce his mischievous antics. It’s because people value the positive aspects of what Curious George offers. He makes Jenny laugh, he bravely saves the ostrich and he’s so creative and fun.
I believe many parents and their children will benefit from more kindness, laughter, courage and curiosity and less stress and fear. It brings me joy to help parents design practices to increase these experiences. Curious George would be proud. Maybe he would even share his medal.