This article is the thirty-fourth in a series about Change from Steve Roesler.
When does security become risky?
When it inhibits people from learning how to successfully deal with the inherent risks of life.
"Risk-taking" is a criterion for hiring and promotion at many companies. We're not talking 'skydivers without parachutes'; we're looking for people who know how to calculate the odds and shout, "Let's go!" when they think the benefits outweigh the consequences of the risk.
But what if the ability to make those kinds of calculations is lost?
I believe that the possibility exists for this to happen.
The source?: Well-intended-but-misguided adults who believe they can engineer every detail of their child's safety. Apparently I'm not alone.
In the U.K, former government adviser Tim Gill has published No Fear: Growing Up In a Risk-Averse Society. It's even available as a free download if you click on the link. Here is a brief editorial review:
"It offers insights into the roles of parents, teachers, carers, the media, safety agencies and the Government and exposes the contradictions inherent in current attitudes and policies, revealing how risk averse behavior ironically can damage and endanger children’s lives.
In conclusion, No Fear advocates a philosophy of resilience that will help counter risk aversion and strike a better balance between protecting children from genuine threats and giving them rich, challenging opportunities through which to learn and grow."
Will Peter Pan Fly As A Member of Your Team?
Psychologist Dan Kiley defined ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ in 1983.
The ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ affects people who do not want or feel unable
to grow up, people with the body of an adult but the mind of a child.
They don’t know how to or don’t want to stop being children and start
being mothers or fathers.
According to the University of Granada, the syndrome is not currently considered a psychopathology, given the World Health Organization has not recognized it as a psychological disorder. However, an increasingly larger number of adults are presenting emotionally immature behaviors in Western society. They are unable to grow up and take on adult responsibilities. They even dress up and enjoy themselves as teenagers when they are over 30 years old.
Humbelina Robles Ortega, professor of the Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment at the university and an expert in emotional disorders, warns that the overprotection by parents can lead children to develop the Peter Pan Syndrome, given “it usually affects dependent people who have been overprotected by their families and haven’t developed the necessary skills to confront life.” The ‘Peter Pans’ of present society “see the adult world as very problematic and glorify adolescence, which is why they want to stay in that state of privilege.”
Peter Pan Syndrome can affect both sexes, but it appears more often among men. Some characteristics of the disorder are the inability of individuals to take on responsibilities, to commit themselves or to keep promises, excessive care about the way they look and personal well-being and their lack of self-confidence, even though they don’t seem to show it and actually come across as exactly the opposite.
Accountability As Adults
The business world revels in "accountability." And we're always on the look-out for accountable people to join our organizations.
But as adults--parents, aunts, and uncles--we are also accountable for building the next generation of responsible adults.
Funny thing about security. Kids do feel secure enough to take some risks when there's a safety net there. That safety net is a parent or trusted adult who is present.
A full schedule of structured activities, orchestrated sleepovers, play days, and safety seats won't outperform a single afternoon of trying to leap across a stream with mom or dad--missing the other side--and finding out you both survived to laugh about it. Then trying it together until you make it.
Risk-taking and personal responsibility aren't a product of outsourcing.
Neither is the next generation of leaders.