Jeff Bezos might know a little something about getting ahead in life. He is, after all, the wealthiest man in the world (again). And like any father, he wants his kids to be successful, too. But the e-commerce king doesn't think they'll get there if they're never allowed to take some risks.
Practically speaking, that means Bezos lets his children engage in activities that potentially could do some harm. For example, Bezos and his wife reportedly have let their children use sharp knives as young as age four. The rationale, according to his wife?
"I'd much rather have a kid with nine fingers than a resourceless kid."
Why Bezos' let-them-try approach makes so much sense
In today's culture, parents arguably tend to be wildly overprotective, continuing to complete tasks for their children based on social norms or preconceptions, rather than on a scientific understanding of their child's developmental capabilities. Experts point out that, over time, this can create a 'learned helplessness' in children, as they don't get the experiences that help them learn to fend for themselves.
Bezos' attitude challenges all this trend. It essentially says that kids won't understand the risks involved in something, let alone how to mitigate those risks to better themselves or their situations, if they never get exposure to tricky tasks.
No, this doesn't mean you should let your children fly into danger.
It means that you do everything you can to actively engage with your child to teach them proper approaches or procedures ahead of time. Once you've done that, you stay by their side as they practice. If they fail, you encourage them to get back up.
Stepping up to the edge of the nest
We hear all the time how entrepreneurs and leaders need to be comfortable stepping out of the box. This comfort, to a degree, is learned. So let your kids try. Foster a willingness to take a hit they can grow from. Inform and guide until they're confident. Then, to quote Finding Dory, just see what Squirt does flying solo.