21.04.2016 : Mike Groves

If you looked at the world through a child's eyes

As we grow older we tend to look ahead to the next goal or big milestone. It’s easy to get caught up in where we are going and miss the small special details that surround us in the now.

As we grow older we tend to look ahead to the next goal or big milestone. It’s easy to get caught up in where we are going and miss the small special details that surround us in the now.

Last week my physio gave me the nod to start doing some real exercise. After several months of going nowhere on an exercycle the prospect of getting outside and going for walks felt good.

I live in Tauranga, a city that has some fantastic natural attributes including Mauao or more simply known as ‘the Mount’. A walk up or around the Mount is something thousands of people enjoy every year, so what better place to start than there.

The next morning I was into it. With a slight achievement-type bias to my personality, I was always going to go up, not around. Why start off too slowly with these things? And of course, when I reached the top of the hill, I had to touch the trig station. It’s one of those things I do.

That night I asked my two kids if they’d like to join me the next day. It could be real adventure. When you’re only eight, Dads are still kind-of cool, so the idea of getting up in the dark, armed with a head lantern and doing an ‘adult’ walk was too much to resist – Matthew was in.

At that point I realised that my over-achieving tendencies would have to be somewhat suppressed. After all little legs just don’t go as quick as bigger legs… although I’m sure the day will come when that changes!

I just wasn’t quite prepared for how different my walk would be. The first thing we had to do was stop at the signboard at the bottom of the hill. I’m not sure whether it was the sign that was appealing or because it was just something to shine his torch at, but we had to read every single word. I don’t think I’d ever read that sign before.

Next stop was the reservoir. It’s nothing fancy, just a big old concrete tank with a wire fence cage at the bottom. What the heck does he want to stop at that for?

“Dad, it’s just like the enclosure on Jurassic World!” I guess I can see that. Kind of.

Up we went with a few more stops on the way, but there was one in particular that has stuck in my mind. We were walking up a steep part and Matthew stopped again. I thought he needed a breather, but it was something else that made him pause. Today we were travelling in Matthew’s world.

“Dad, that rock looks like a dinosaur’s head.”

I’m not sure how many times I had been past that rock before, but I can assure you I had never seen it as a dinosaur’s head. But you know what, when I stopped and really looked it does indeed look just like a dinosaur’s head.

This got me thinking. If I’ve managed to walk past a dinosaur’s head, what else haven’t I been seeing? Why am I missing this stuff? What else am I missing out on? Have I trained my imagination into submission, so focussed on goals and objectives (like getting to the top) that I no longer give myself the time to let my mind roam freely? Am I missing out on life?

For the last week or so since that walk with Matthew, some of these thoughts have been jiggling around in my sub-conscious. I have been looking for ways to apply them to my work. I have realised that to be creative you need to give yourself some free space to let your brain do its thing. Can creative thinking, not analytical thinking, be used to solve tricky issues? Instead of breaking problems down, applying logic and drawing conclusions I have tried to slow down, take a few minutes and not to think too hard. It’s been different, but it’s worked.

This morning I set off on my walk up the Mount. When I got to the top I still touched the trig station, but today I then did something different. Today I stopped to look at the view. And even with dark rainy skies, the lights of Mt Maunganui and ships in the distance heading for the harbour entrance is a great view to look at. Why haven’t I done that more often? As we grow older we tend to look ahead to the next goal or big milestone.

It’s easy to get caught up in where we are going and miss the small special details that surround us in the now.

My son taught me a valuable lesson that day. He taught me to step back, take a breath, take a moment, and to see things differently. Try it for yourself, you might be surprised at what you discover. Perhaps if I had remembered to take a torch this morning I would have seen another dinosaur. I definitely saw the boogieman though!

About the Author

Mike Groves

Project Delivery Director

Mike is responsible for our New Zealand Project and Cost Management group. He drives performance improvement across our team of 120 professional delivery specialists and consistently looks for different ways to make things happen. He was the project manager for Whakatane Hospital Redevelopment, winner of the 2015 RICS Project Management Team of the Year award.  Mike loves the variety of outdoors activities that Tauranga has to offer.

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ADD A COMMENT
Ainslee Collins · 15/11/2016 7:32:19 a.m.
Awesome Mike, what a fabulous story. Love hearing about this at the HS Conference today and now I've found your actual story in writing. I intend to share this with my colleagues too!