“It is not working” says my three-year-old son on the verge of a pool of tears. “The cream is not working” he says again, staring down at his hands and rubbing them together as hard as he could.

Each time he rubbed his palms together, he assumed that the lotion would ‘lather’ up like soap or magically increase in his palm; but sadly, the opposite was always the case.

Call it laziness, call it an impatience meets desperate desire to see my boy become a man syndrome, but I have started teaching my three year old how to bathe and dress up for school with as little help from mummy as possible.

He has been doing quite well so far, but at some point, the ‘cream’ (body lotion) stopped working. The bottle of lotion had past the quarter mark and it was becoming more difficult for him to squeeze out as much lotion as he used to.

One fateful morning, after much effort, he got a little bit of lotion on his hands and rubbed them together, but there was no spread of a thick layer of lotion that he could use on the rest of his body.

When he was having a bath and he rubbed the sponge with soap, it would lather up, increasing the soap- in his mind’s eye at least. So, he assumed that rubbing his palms together with a little cream on it, would ‘lather’ up the lotion and increase it.

Sadly, the harder he rubbed, the more the lotion blended into his hands. Getting more anxious, he rubbed harder and harder, only to see the cream ‘fade’ away even more.

Finally, with tears beginning to well up in his eyes, he told me the ‘cream was not working’ desperately pleading for help.

Sometimes we are quick to assume that certain things always work the same way, and the same principle applies to everything.

Sometimes we think that all men- or women- are the same, assuming that all people from a certain race, nation, cultural group, or social class are the same and the way we deal with one is the way we deal with another.

How often do we assume that the way we handled issues in one phase of our lives is the best way to handle it now? Before we quit or play the blame game when a business, relationship or a plan is not working out the way we thought it would let us seek to first find out the best way to make it work.

My son applied the principle that worked on the soap to the cream and it worked for a while, until he realised that morning that the cream does not ‘increase’ when his hands are rubbed together. Many times we are too quick to make a principle out of something simply because it worked the first time; we often do not ask why it worked, how we can do it better or if there is something more we need to know about it.

I dare you to pause and look at your relationships, finances, or general methods of doing things and ask yourself: What is not ‘working’? What has stopped working? Will this always work? Change is the only thing that is constant, and growth is knowing when you need to change the way you operate.

No matter how well I did at high school and university, my father always said, ‘Do better next time’. It used to be frustrating, because in my eyes I was doing well. But I realise now that he was teaching me to never settle, to always keep pushing to do better than my best.

Never do things the way you have always done it, simply because it gives you a desired result. Try something new, try doing old things in a different- better way. Motivate people around you to do the same, so you are always surrounded by an inner circle of growing people. No matter what, keep growing, keep stretching, keep the ‘cream’ working!