Logan was four years old when Brian and Kelly signed him up for flag football. It took a good deal of convincing on Logan’s part, since the league included kids up to age 6. But even with the age difference, and the fact that a number of the 6-year-olds were bigger than Logan, Brian and Kelly didn’t want to stifle his willingness to try something new. Brian picks up the story in Chapter 16, “Let’s Try Things.”
I wanted him to play sports and be out there, too. It’s just that the boys were grade-school age and Logan, at the time, was still in preschool. Kelly and I wanted to wait a year or two before letting Logan participate, but he was adamant, so we let him give it a try. He was 4 years old in the spring of 2010 when we let him try playing a little bit of flag football, on a team that I coached.
The league was for 4- to 6-year-olds, but most of the kids were 6. Logan was one of two 4-year-olds on the team. The size difference between 4 and 6 could be a little or it could be a lot. When your kid is the 4-year-old, however, the 6-year-olds look like NFL players.
Children lack the self-imposed barrier adults tend to construct. Kids have no idea if they’re going to like something or hate it, but they want to experience it. I think the job of a parent is to encourage that exploration while still setting common-sense boundaries — you don’t want your kid climbing the city water tower or anything like that — and continuing to encourage that sense of exploration as they grow older. It takes a stomach for risk, quite literally. The same year
Logan tried flag football, he started expanding his culinary tastes. One day, he saw salmon on a TV advertisement and decided he wanted to try it the next time we went out to eat. It should be noted that Kelly is a vegetarian, so if Logan didn’t like his salmon, I would have faced a choice: Eat the salmon myself or throw it in the trash, which, given the price of salmon, is more or less like lighting a $20 bill on fire and watching it burn to ashes.
I didn’t really want salmon that night, so the other option was the one in play. But it turned out Logan enjoyed the salmon. Again, he took a step into new territory, was rewarded for the risk and was subsequently emboldened to have more new experiences.
Too often, in the name of protection, we tell kids “no” when they want to try something new. Any child who wants to try something new is often fighting an uphill battle against an onslaught of “don’t,” “won’t” and “can’t.” In other words, you have to be pretty determined if you’re going to try something new.
I think we do much the same thing in the world of business. If someone in a company has an idea, we give that person every reason why it can’t work. In the name of protecting our interests, we, as the leaders, often crush the entrepreneurial spirit of our employees. In doing so, we systematically slam the door on the intellectual assets they bring to the table. Just like with children, we quash their curiosity and desire to dream if we say no too many times.