Boot CampMan on a Mission: Archives

Boot Camp – Back to Basics: What You Can Learn from Your 5-Year Old Self

Bootcamp is a series of exercises/drills in blog form to help entrepreneurs and changemakers create the impact they want to make out in the world.

In my workshops, I usually start with a little bit of a story about myself. A story about where I started and my journey to the Philippines.

I’ve been trying something new in my “inspirational talks”. In between slides, I’ve  been adding micro-activities to create interactivity.

When I was giving a talk for The One School, I had this slide:


Spiderman was a valid answer

I asked this question because when I now look at my life in retrospect, a lot of my current happiness and joy comes from following my inner child.

When I was about 5 years old, I wanted to be either a soldier or a teacher. Later, the height requirement for the military would limit my options but I could still see both ringing true. To this day, I call myself an entrepreneur, educator and coach.

I believe there is a lot of wisdom in the simplicity of our 5-year old self’s aspirations and dreams. And resisting those dreams could mean dissatisfaction, lack of creativity, excitement and self-expression.


Ignore your inner child at your own risk. (Photo by Christine Szeto)

The phrasing of the question is very important. It is not “what you want to do” but “who you want to be”. When phrased this way, it’s less about the profession/career/skillsets but more about the essence or soul of who you wanted to be.

So in the end, it’s not about me wanting or actually becoming a soldier or teacher but who I wanted to be at the time: someone who serves, someone who leads and someone who shares.

Even if your aspirations seem out of reach now, like becoming an astronaut or a superhero, ask yourself the question and ask yourself what exactly attracted you to the dream. Was it making a difference? Was it the thirst for adventure? Was it about having an awesome power or skill?

Then ask yourself “Have I been listening to 5 year old (insert your name here)?”

So the exercise is simple, who did you want to be when you grew up? Leave your answers and insights in the comments!

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Also published on Medium.

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