It takes a small child to make us see sense sometimes. My 7-year old daughter loves school and on days that I collect her, I always greet her with,
"Hi Charlotte, how are you?"
And nine times out of ten she answers,
"Hi Daddy, I'm brilliant!"
It is impossible not to smile at such an open exhibition of enthusiasm. Her positivity is infectious.
Yet, like most adults, it took a while to dawn on me that I could learn something from my own child.
I was thinking about her when I met a business colleague other day.
"Hello, Martin," he said as we automatically shook hands, "how are you?"
It was on tip of my tongue to say "I'm fine", or, "not too bad" as I would normally respond. But instead, Charlotte's smiling face popped into my mind and I came back with,
"I'm brilliant, thank you. How are you?"
A flicker of confusion crossed his face as my unexpected response sank in. Then a big smile spread across this rather dour businessman's face and he said,
"You know, I'm feeling pretty brilliant too!"
We had a great meeting.
Charlotte's natural enthusiasm taught me a big lesson: that we go through life saying and hearing conditioned responses that really mean absolutely nothing. It is only when we break out of expected that real communication occurs.