Most weekends my wife and I try to do some type of activity with our kids. This particular weekend we did not have anything planned so on a whim (and with no better more creative ideas), I took our son, Camden, and daughter, Mackenzie, outside to go “exploring” in our back yard. This consisted of a glorified game of follow the leader where we took turns looking at natures' debris which was our curiosity shop of treasures for the moment. We found several different types of bugs, leaves, moss that was odd colored and growing on one of our trees, but the highlight of the day came when I took them to a pine tree near our fence that I had recently trimmed quite a few dead branches.
Where many of the branches used to be, instead there were sawed off nubs with gold colored tree sap dripping out of it. I showed my two oldest children and you would have thought they were watching the first landing on the moon or at least experiencing their first ride on an elevator or some other significant milestone. Whatever it was their excitement level certainly outmatched the sticky substance that was pouring out of tree. After the ooh's and aahhs, mackenzie took another look and then said “dad that's what a piggily marmoset eats.”
I was stunned for two reasons; the first of which was I had no idea what a piggily marmoset was and my 5 year old daughter clearly did. I knew this because she adamantly explained that they live in the rainforest and eat sap from the trees. It didn't stop here because she proceeded to provide a national geographic worthy narrative of the piggily marmoset. The second reason I was so surprised was that she connected all of this information and facts about the marmoset to tree sap. She knew theoretically that they ate this, but really had no idea what tree sap actually was. This connection in her mind all of a sudden made it real for her. This marmoset (actually called a pygmy marmoset and is a very small monkey) now was something she could identify with and tell stories about all because she was able to experience something different and out of routine that caused her to grow and learn. More importantly than that though it caused her to connect ideas and knowledge in a new and different way.
If you are willing to try something different (or even just slightly different) you can experience a whole new frontier of connecting things you already know in a new and different way. Furthermore if you intentionally do this and even look for opportunities to take advantage of “learning opportunities” that you wouldn't normally take, it will open up doors for you. Best of all this often puts you in a position to be able to help others in ways that you wouldn't have been able to before.
As we have turned the corner into the last half of the year and the possibilities for you, your career and your growth are endless, I hope you have many exciting “Piggily Marmoset Moments” in 2013!