I am writing this article eight months after becoming a father for the first time. This is my first encounter with fatherhood, having come on board later in my life than most people do. However, seeing Simon for the first time was wonderful, and leads to many different questions I now think about. How will he turn out? What sort of a life will he lead? What will he look back on when he is my age? As with every parent, I imagine, I hope he's looking back on a life of achievement and happiness.

I wonder what he will learn as he goes on his journey. I also wonder what he will unlearn. After all, as we go through life, its challenges and tribulations, we learn new skills, and how to adapt to get what we want or need. However, some of that adaptation involves unlearning things that we are born with, which are prominent during our early years.

I believe there are three areas of unlearning that are counterproductive to living a genuinely fulfilled life. I have outlined each of them below, along with some ideas on how it is we unlearn them.

Unlearning 1: Holding our power

I knew this anyway, but I'm learning so much from Simon. Babies are born with terrific power! They aren't afraid to express their needs. Okay, they are pretty basic needs, but babies and kids know how to turn up the volume – they are so much louder than adults. Babies and toddlers don't know how to mumble! They aren't afraid to ask...or demand.

As we grow up, we often lose this voice. It's rude to ask or demand. We're told to be quiet. We learn to lose our power under pressure from society, schools and parents, not to mention from other people our age. Isn't it ironic that babies are on the face of it powerless, yet they know how to be powerful. Adults, by contrast, are incredibly powerful, yet so many of us behave as if we have none. In a manner of speaking, we throw out the baby with the bath-water. While there is a need to use our power more intelligently, and in a more socially skilled way as we grow older, many of us lose it completely. We dampen our light and settle for less.

Unlearning 2: Being ourselves

While I can't get inside a babies head (no bad thing!), it doesn't seem like they have any problem with being who they are. They hold no sense of social inadequacy, that they are not worthy of attention. They do not hide parts of themselves they don't want others to see. They don't disguise their intentions. In other words, babies and young children are born authentic.

What a shame we adults lose this! We learn to put on different acts for the benefit of different people. We might pretend we like a job, or someone, when we don't. We avoid saying how we feel. We accumulate noise and self doubts as we grow up that gets in the way of our just being who we are.

Remember those office Christmas parties where family members are also invited? How comfortable is that, for your work colleagues to meet your spouse and family? I reckon part of the reason for discomfort is that many people behave completely differently at work, from with their family, and that makes it hard to work out how you're going to behave on THAT night. “Oh, I hope he doesn't get talking to her!”. Trouble is, this means in at least one of these situations, you are not being the real you....and most likely you're not in both.

“Being ourselves” sounds so easy in principle, but for many people it feels both unattainable, and painful – facing up squarely to our own lack of self esteem.

Unlearning 3: Creative imagination

Children are born creative. How many kids do you know who don't try things out, use a paintbrush, play musical instruments, or make up pictures. Children also create plays, as in playing houses or wars. Didn't we all use our imaginations when we were younger? Vivid ones too!

Sad thing is though that we lose our creative imagination as we 'grow up'. We learn lessons like “imagination is not real”, or “painting wont get you a job”, and we are disciplined out of being creative. We are encouraged to dress to conformity, particularly in schools – and the pressures to conform come at an early age. Simon now has a ton of baby clothes, more than I have it seems! And all of them are blue...As I say, conformity comes early. As Sir Ken Robinson's brilliant speech a few years ago made plain, our education systems are geared to developing left brain activities, like analysis, arithmetic and the sciences, at the expense of right brain creative activities, like music, dance, the arts and generally just being imaginative and creative.

Not only does this strategy kill half our brain, it also costs society dear. How many great strides forward have been made as the result of great analysis alone. The answer is 'not a lot'. From the first man on the moon to Einstein's theory of relativity, even the great scientific and engineering feats have come about as the result of creative imagination.

Rediscovering our creativity is a key to making the truly big strides in our lives.

So there you have it. The three things we often unlearn to our cost as we grow up. Re-learning them is crucial if we are to live the life we really want.

Clearly, my challenge as a father will be how to encourage these three core things to stay with my son. I want him to be empowered, to be himself and to connect with his natural creativity. However, taking my parental hat off and putting my personal development hat on, the challenge for all of us is to reconnect with these three areas, where we have lost sight of them, and to do some re-learning for ourselves.

We should do this for two reasons – for our own good, and so we can encourage others to do the same. We can't help others to empower themselves, be who they are, and retain their creativity if we haven't done it ourselves.

So one question – what are you going to do to re-learn your unlearning? You owe it to yourself, and those who matter to you.

Author's Bio: 

A published author and coach consultant, Mark has 25 years experience of helping people develop their leadership, power and career to become the best they can be. His motto is 'bringing personality to work, and work to life'. He owns Brilliant Futures, and can be found at http://www.brilliantfutures.net/