A younger camper kept hacking away at a wood shop project. The lines weren’t coming together the way she wanted, the cuts were not ‘just right.’ While the project looked a little bit like the folding stool she wanted, her third try still didn’t quite work.
After talking the problem over with the wood shop head, she said something to make him laugh. As she got back to work, he waved me over.
“Cole, I know she was frustrated but she just told me ‘I can’t wait to figure this out’ with the biggest smile. I need more of that attitude in my life!”
Don’t we all?
Our camper was practicing a highly positive and functional narrative. She was going to figure it out and each mistake was a way to learn. This type of story helps to build a more anti-fragile life.
The idea comes from Nassim Taleb’s book, Anti-Fragile but was introduced to me by my friend Steve Baskin, the owner/director of Camp Champions in Texas. While Taleb talks mostly about the financial world, Steve believes this idea is just as important to growing great humans. I couldn’t agree more.
Here’s the gist - there are three groups. Some things are inherently fragile and break apart easily. Think of a crystal goblet; you drop it and it blasts apart. Another group might be considered robust as they can handle pressure and retain their shape. This would be a plastic cup; it’ll just bounce around the floor but keep it’s shape.
The final group actually gets stronger as pressure is applied. This last group is considered anti-fragile. A good example would be your immune system or your muscles. Without being stressed, neither will thrive.
Prepared to Launch
If we protect our children too long from pain or struggle, we put off preparing them for the real world. The idea instead, is to start doing less for them sooner rather than later.
Here are a few ideas for home:
Have them make their school lunch.
Do not run that book or laptop out.
Listen attentively to a social issue they are experiencing and tell them, “I’m sorry you are dealing with that. Let me know how you two work it out.”
Celebrate when things go well and coach when things need improving. By going through these smaller responsibilities and consequences and coaching them through the process, we prepare our children to make mistakes and see them as learning experiences.
They are building a more anti-fragile life and internal story that will drive them further.
Campfire Conversation Podcast
Steve gives us a great start to this thinking during our upcoming Campfire Conversation: Anti-Fragile Kids. I hope this summer camp inspired podcast will give you several ideas on how to help the young people in your life develop narratives that lead to fulfilled, empowered and inspired lives.
It’s certainly got me thinking about the story I tell myself and those I help our sons and campers create.
What’s your story?