Last Sunday's Father's Day was one of the best ever for me. With little notice, both my children brought their boys for a Little Hocking visit. The three fathers, my son, my son-in-law, and I, enjoyed watching the two cousins, who are a little over 2 years old run, play, and engage in occasional cousinly hugs.
Theirs is a great age. Everything is still new and worthy of exploration. We walked into the woods behind my house and took in the luscious greenery. A small box turtle, partially covered with grass, turned into another first and another lesson. On the front walk, a 2-inch black carpenter beetle provided a new bit of information to record.
I scratched a budding walnut and held it down to my grandson to experience a novel smell. A spicebush leave rolled between my fingers provided another one. I pointed out the various species of trees and ferns, native beebalm, solomon's seal, and even a sprig of poison ivy that had escaped my annual treatment of herbicide.
The two children took turns singing songs and watching five species of woodpeckers diving for and swinging from a suet block. It was a beautiful day with soothing clouds and an occasional burst of sunlight.
The kids love their Grandma Carol and have mastered the pronunciation of Ganma Cawal and Gandatty. Carol made a batch of egg curry for breakfast, a specialty of our daughter-in-law's, and it was enjoyed by all. Presents were exchanged between my daughter-in-law and Carol since their birthdays were the 17th and 18th respectively.
Our grandchildren both live several hours away from us and the children with successive visits grow dramatically both mentally and physically. In the past year, each time we see them, they are better communicators and more astute at assessing their environments. Every new experience deserves an outstretched finger and needs a name.
Whether fortunate or unfortunate, as we age, we take for granted so many amazing things around us. On the positive side this tendency allows us to process our surroundings very quickly. On the other hand, we miss data that may be an important clue to an impending problem. In the past, I have written and talked about neotony, the ability of an adult to look at the world with child-like eyes.
Achieving this state is hard to do but with work it is possible. Take a walk in the woods with a plant guide and read about the many diverse species and their medicinal purposes. Pose common questions in unique ways. Watch and listen to a 2-year old or any young person. There is no doubt they view the world differently than we do. As they get older, we, their parents, teachers, and coaches, teach them to look at the world as we do. As leaders, sometimes we need to seek to understand the world as those around us do. That understanding can open our eyes to new solutions and better products.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.