Whispers of Wisdom Holly Dowling EliWhen do you get your greatest inspiration? My greatest ideas come to me in the most valuable time that I have for myself: my down time. In this quiet time, I am truly able to reflect and listen to my inner voice.

My husband Steve & I were recently blessed to relish in our 5-year-old grandson Eli for a weeklong trip at our home in Scottsdale, AZ. We do this every summer, and each time is truly more magical than the last!

This trip, I truly felt the whispers of wisdom, guidance, & inspiration that came to me through the stillness of time while playing with Eli. It was an eye-opening, miraculous reminder of how powerful the wisdom from a 5-year-old has so much to do with our world as adults & leaders. These ideas and wisdoms are refreshing because they were so simple, yet profound. So, what can we learn from the mouth of my 5-year-old grandson?

1. “Gogo, losers are not winners. If you win, you’re a winner. But if you lose, you don’t get an award.”

First and foremost: playing games. Eli and I had the pleasure of playing the classic game Chutes and Ladders while he was here. Before we began, Eli made sure to explain to me the difference between winning and losing: “Gogo, losers are not winners. If you win, you’re a winner. But if you lose, you don’t get an award.”

His attitude towards winning and losing the game reminded me of the game we play each day while living our lives. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. If you win, that’s wonderful! If you lose, move on. No need to give people awards for their effort… you either win or lose!

2. “My gut tells me I’m not cheating.”

While playing Chutes and Ladders, Eli seemed to know just how to move the spinner to spin the number he needed each time. 🙂 When I asked him if he thought he may be cheating, he replied to me, “My gut tells me I’m not cheating.”

Chuckling at his response, I thought about how moving the spinner reminded me of all the “spins” and risks we take in life. We all wonder, “What is the right next move?”. Are you listening to your gut? Are you trying to find loopholes and ways to get around things? Are you not addressing situations that we need to address? And as leaders, is your gut telling you that you’re doing the right thing? Always listen to your gut.

3. “My heart sings inside because I am so happy, Gogo.”

One of the biggest takeaways from my time with Eli was the need to stop doing and start being. After a wonderful day together with Eli, I said, “You’re so happy.” And he said, “My heart sings inside because I am so happy, Gogo.” Wow! Have we forgotten what it’s like to be so happy, to be so full of joy, that our heart sings inside? When was the last time that you felt this way?

Later, he looked at me and he said, “Did you know, that when cats snore, that means they’re happy?” Did you know that? We need to start taking the time to ensure that we have moments that make our hearts sing (and maybe make us snore!).

4. “You got this, Eli. You can do this. Now do it!”

Another really profound moment came during a day of swimming. Steve and I were teaching Eli how to dive down into the water to go after animals and toys that we would throw to the bottom. Eli was trying really hard to push himself all the way down and come back up, but was having a little difficulty. While he was learning, I watched him dive down, try to reach his toys, but fall a little short and have to come back up. Rather than be frustrated, Eli decided to give himself his own inspirational talk. He said, “You got this, Eli. You can do this. Now do it!” And he dove right back down.

This moment really made me think, “Wow, are we empowering others to give themselves their own inspirational, motivational talks? Are we doing it for our self rather than waiting for others to do it for us?” It was inspiring to see him give himself his own boost talk and use his mental power to eventually succeed. As leaders, it’s important that we inspire people to believe in themselves and practice self love.

5. “Fear is only in your head.”

The most profound whisper of wisdom from Eli was such a wakeup call for me! At the end of a day at the waterpark, Eli and I were walking up a steep set of stairs to go down a very tall, but fun waterslide. As we approached the top, he looked at me and we had this exchange:

Eli: “Gogo, be careful.”

Holly: “I will. Why?”

Eli: (smiling) “Because you’re old.” (har-har!)

Holly: “Ok, but I’m a little nervous.”

Eli: “Why are you nervous?”

Holly: “Well, I don’t want to go too fast.”

Eli: “Don’t be afraid, Gogo. It’s really fun.”

And then, he took his finger, pointed to his head and said:

Eli: “Fear is only in your head. On your marks, get set, let’s go!”

As I gathered my courage and raced down the waterslide with him, I thought, “Wow, what wisdom from a 5-year-old.” Fear is in our head. Isn’t it amazing how we will work ourselves up and make anthill-sized problems into volcanoes? We’re allowing ourselves to be fearful for no reason at all, because fear, most of the time, is an invention we make up in our head. It is time to embrace the uncertainty of life and run to it, not from it.

I hope you enjoyed these whispers of wisdom from Eli and his Gogo. I cannot wait to continue to learn from him and share his wisdom with the world!