I’m 24 years old and I’ve been diagnosed with stage two Adultitis. According to the test, I’ve been experiencing very high levels of stress and have difficulty laughing. Alas, this fanciful diagnosis, unrecognized by the Center for Disease Control, originates from www.adultitis.org, a website designed by the Wisconsin Association of Executive Directors’ 2017 Summit speaker and founder of Escape Adulthood, Jason Kotecki.
Jason describes himself as “a professional reminder-er and permission granter.” A Madison local, he believes that “a life that embraces a childlike spirit is a life that is less stressful and way more fun.” At this past year’s WSAE Summit, he spoke on breaking away from nonsensical rules that we follow “because we’ve always done it that way,” and instead embracing childlike courage and curiosity. His book, Penguins Don’t Fly: +39 Other Rules That Don't Exist, expands on those ideas, and his playful writing style and illustrations reflect his carefree philosophy. Jason’s humor and personal anecdotes help bind together a collection of small truths used to revive the young at heart.
While Adultitis may be fictional, the diagnosis is all too real, and seems to be common among adults, especially around the holiday season. As 2017 drew to an end, and impending deadlines closed in at work, I took comfort in reflecting on Jason’s closing talk at the Summit, Curing Adultitis: Your Prescription for Less Stress and More Success, and other little wisdoms found in Penguins Can't Fly.
Jason writes, “The purpose of this book is not to tell you how to live your life. It’s to make you more mindful of the choices you make…My goal is to help you open your eyes to the way you think and the actions you take. I want you to question. Investigate. Experiment. Poke. Prod. Play.”
Is that not the definition of innovation: investigate, experiment, poke, and prod? Innovation, at its core, is used to improve; but how can we innovate if we’re stuck in autopilot, working without much thought or any real meaning? That’s how we fall prey to Adultitis. As Jason references, the opposite of success is not failure, but instead doing nothing.
Ultimately, something’s got to give. If you’re suffering from Adultitis, nothing’s going to change unless you do. As we prepare personal and professional goals for this new year, let us focus on mindfulness. Children constantly question, “why?” If you don’t have a good answer as for “why,” it’s time to innovate. Be curious and take courage in trying something new. Like children, live in the moment and make every day meaningful.