It would certainly have been no surprise if the poor English boy Charlie Chaplin, who grew up to be the great silent movie actor and producer, had instead become in real life the little tramp he portrayed many times on screen. His childhood was desperately poor. Charlie's mother was eventually committed to an asylum and Charlie himself was twice sent to the workhouse before the age of nine. Yet throughout this time of hardship he was sustained by a dream.
'You have to believe in yourself, that's the secret. Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world. I had to feel the exuberance that comes from utter confidence in yourself. Without it, you go down to defeat.'
Charlie Chaplin, actor, filmmaker, writer (1889-1977)
Using the story
Charlie Chaplin's is the archetypal rags-to-riches story and the actor is a role model of triumph over adversity. His is an example of determination fuelled by a personal vision and the self-confidence to reach his long-term goal.
Use this story to show how a clear vision can be as important to individuals as to organizations. Dreams can be a motivational force, a springboard to successful action, even when the odds seem stacked against.
The Child Within You
50 Stories & Snippets author David Williams and his wife Paula were collecting their thoughts after a lively training workshop which involved adults making models and collages as they envisioned the future. A couple of cleaners came into the room to tidy up. Surveying the scene they innocently asked, 'Have you been running a nursery class in here today?'
'What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.'
Sigmund Freud, Austrian founder of psychoanalysis (1856-1939)
'Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.'
Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter (1881-1973)
Using the story
A dynamic organization will be constantly searching for imaginative approaches, different encounters and new ways of thinking.
A creative environment keeps us fresh and imaginative. It encourages metaphoric thinking, stimulates all the senses, values fun and humour, tolerates (even embraces) risk-taking and avoids the stultifying influence of 'business as usual' habits and practice. Sometimes it helps to think like a child.
Use this story and accompanying quotations to show how we sometimes need to throw off the assumptions of our adulthood to find fresh ideas. You may like to precede or follow up the story with a participative exercise in creativity such as the one briefly described above.