Children and courage

At the beginning of this year, I read what I thought was a business book (Courage Goes To Work). It made me think, and I realized there are a lot of similarities between raising children and developing an organization’s courage. The more I look at growing South Shore, the more I see a connection between raising children and developing our people.

I remember that when we were raising our 4 kids, I wasn’t always around to help, since I was on the road and developing South Shore to the best of my ability.  Sylvie, my wife, was often left with the kids, but we always managed to get in touch daily to talk about whatever was happening in our days.

As you can imagine, with four kids there was always something going on, some good days and some not so good. But as parents, there is always a time where you are confronted with a situation where one of your children can get hurt or be disappointed: situations where you could get involved and tell them, based on your experience, that this is what’s going to happen and why it’s not a good idea to pursue it.

Sylvie and I took a different path, and we would ask ourselves 2 questions: 1) Is there a possibility that the child is going to get hurt physically? or 2) Is there a possibility that the child is going to get hurt psychologically? If the answer was yes to one of the two questions, we would get involved and use our experience to explain why it would not be a good idea to continue with their intention, or even use our parental authority to stop them. But if the answer was no to the two questions, we would let them experience the pain associated with the bad result we were sure was going to happen. Instead, we would coach them in understanding what could be done differently.

More importantly, we would help them face the emotions that come with failure, rejection or even other people’s laughter. What we realized after a while is that we have equipped them with tools to face the real world. I believe that we sometimes overprotect our children, when we go and talk to the teacher or the principal instead of having them deal with the situation themselves. As long as the two questions are answered with a no, I believe that we should let our children learn from their mistakes or even from the unfair treatment they think they are receiving from a person in authority. I believe that a lot of the problems in our society today are due to the fact that our children are not equipped to face the real world. They didn’t have a chance to learn in a controlled environment how to manage some of the feelings and emotions that are essential to growing up and living in society  –  to the extent that today we have more and more teenagers and young adults who consider suicide as a way of escaping those emotions.

I think that as parents, managers, leaders, human beings, we have the obligation to get people out of their comfort zone and into their effort zone, their discomfort zone, their courage zone, while at the same time being careful not to push them into their fear or panic zone.

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Just as we can coach our children to deal with the ups and downs of life, I believe that, in order to succeed in business, we have to coach people in our organizations to face their fears. We have to give them the tools to reduce their stress to a manageable level, to their effort zone, their discomfort zone, their courage zone.

More to come on each zone…

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