It’s tempting as a parent to think we need to reward knowledge and outcomes, to teach our kids to play it safe until they are guaranteed a good result.
Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance, disagrees. Belsky thinks knowledge and outcomes matter to some extent, but he got tired of interviewing streams of job candidates who had 4.0 GPAs but showed little promise of making an impact in the real world. To him, being smart was not the best indicator that someone was going to make a great contribution to an organization. Instead, he and his innovative team began to look at a candidate’s initiative:
We would look for people who got involved and became leaders in things that they loved. It didn’t matter whether it was the sailing team or a campus newspaper, the fact that someone took extraordinary initiative was the best indicator that they would do the same in their future job.” (Source: 99%)
If that’s true, maybe we need to value initiative as much or more than we value outcomes.
If you think about it…few of the stories we champion in the Bible would have happened without initiative. I mean Daniel and the lion’s den? Really…you have to be willing to live on the edge if you’re ready to be thrown alive into a den full of famished cats with large teeth. David and Goliath? If you read the story, you realize David has initiative that thousands of soliders lack and a plan that’s so ridiculous no one but David and God think it might work.
Now ask yourself this question: if you were David’s dad or Daniel’s mother, what would you have advised either of them to do?
Maybe God values initiative more than we do. Perhaps initiative is linked to faith.
Which means we might need to change our attitude about initiative. At least if we want to produce leaders for the next generation. At least if we want to nurture lives that God can use for bold things. Safety helmets and elbow pads don’t appear to get you very far in the Bible.
I’m not suggesting we let our kids ride their bikes without helmets, but maybe I am saying once in a while we need to let them live life without one.
What can you do this week to reward the initiative, daring and courage your child shows? How can you communicate that there might actually be more value in the trying than in the succeeding?