During a coaching call a few months ago, a client mentioned her can-do attitude. She said she often felt like the little engine that could, saying to herself “I think I can, I think I can.”
It reminded me of a talk I had heard many years before at one of our Inside Edge meetings in San Diego. The speaker‘s theme was that all of us have a children’s book that influenced us in a profound way.
Although not something we are aware of, his premise was that when we went back to our favorite childhood book, we would experience a few “ah-ha” moments.
I knew immediately what that book was for me. It was present given to me on my 5th birthday by my boyfriend, John.
Given that we were both five, I am betting his mom picked it out for me. Perhaps because I was a girl and it was obviously a girl book, or because she had seen my quiet happiness at being the May Day queen that year, or maybe it appealed to her too.
Whatever the reason, I loved it, and had kept it all those years. It was pretty damaged. It had pages falling out, and the outline of my pen on many pages as I traced over the head of the starring character, wanting to capture her beauty myself.
When I was little, I would lay in bed every day reading that book over and over again. Along with my Hans Christian Anderson book of all his stories (which I also have, and add as the second book on the list), it remained my childhood favorite.
However, it wasn’t until I heard the idea that day, that a childhood book had influenced my life, that I went back to read it again as an adult.
I was astonished!
Overlooking the very raciest words (it was written in 1946, and I am sure it was not meant to be that way then) it was exactly how I was trying to live my life.
It was about a queen who ruled over a place called Happy Valley. Her intent (passed on by her father the King) was to bring to everyone in the valley (yes, amazingly I also actually grew up in a place nicknamed Happy Valley) beauty and love, through music, art, and dance.
She was a ballet dancer. She collected children from all over the world. She gave them gifts and joy, and enabled them to share their unique talents with the people of Happy Valley.
I sighed in amazement, happy that this was the book that had influenced me. Not only was dance my first profession, but the idea of what I wanted to accomplish – in my own way – has been a guiding principle for everything I have done in life.
I hadn’t thought of this until recently when my client mentioned that she said, “I think I can” from the book The Little Engine that could. Yes, it turns out, that was her favorite book, and everyone that knows her knows she is that little engine that could!
Just a few days ago, there was one extra reveal for me.
Recently Del put the ring tone on his phone of the song The Dancing Queen to let him know that I was calling. So I started saying to him when he picked up the phone, Hi, It’s the Dancing Queen.
People have called me that for years. I love Aba’s song The Dancing Queen.
However, it wasn’t until just a few days ago, in preparing for the assignment to The Women’s Council to find their favorite childhood book, that it dawned on me that perhaps I should check the title of my book!
I ran downstairs, found the book (carefully encased in a baggy so the pages don’t fall out) and looked at the title. Yes, it is called, The Dancing Queen.
I felt as if I had come full circle.
What is your book? What can you learn from it? Let’s share!