I took my kids to the park today. It’s a beautiful day in my neighborhood. Sunny, breezy – great kite flying weather.
We went to play with our bubble blowers, but ended up on the playground. My baby sat in the baby swing and had a blast, until big brother decided to run off to the playscape.
Naturally, little brother just HAD to go along.
So out of the swing, and up to the playscape we trot. I was trying not to be an overprotective mom. I heard myself encouraging my baby.
“Good job, honey!”
“That’s a big boy!”
“Way to go!”
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with playscapes, but this one has two climbing “arches”. Essentially it’s an arched step-ladder. They had a short one like this for the little kids:
And it leads to a fairly innocuous slide that’s perfect for toddlers.
Of course they had one about 3 times that size at the other end of the scape, that leads up to the largest corkscrew slide at the tippy top of the playscape.
Which one do you think my toddler wanted to climb?
So He’s holding on to these rails that are far too wide for his arm span, taking one step at a time. To make it more difficult, the wrungs sag in the middle, so they’re more “U” shaped instead of straight, which adds a bit of challenge to the climb.
And did I mention it’s still a bit soggy on the playground, so things are a little slippery?
Don’t mind me, it’s just my “overprotective mother” voice chiming in here.
So I’m like a hawk, right next to him all the way up the “ladder” and he gets to the top, and reaches out for the platform above my head (if he falls, I will be LUCKY if I can catch him).
Success! He climbs on, reaches the slide, and twists and turns his way down to the ground – only to do it again, much to my chagrin.
I am decidedly NOT ready for him to be handling such “big” tasks, yet.
He must have climbed that ladder 6 times before he even took notice in the smaller ladder – he really was proud of his ability to make “child’s play” of an obstacle 4-5 times his size.
In business, we sometimes get wrapped up in the steps: crawl before you walk, walk before you run, etc. It’s important to make sure you’re prepared for what comes next – at least to the extent that you can be prepared for anything.
But there are times when we need a challenge to prove our mettle. Something we can see from beginning to end, that’s bigger than ourselves, and pushes us to try something new, strengthen us, and improve in ways we might not have imagined.
It’s good to stretch and grow.
It’s also good to have a coach there to sheer you, guide you, and catch you if you start to struggle. Mommy’s hands were right there, following along as my son reached, and stretched and wriggled his way up that ladder.
You can be sure if he fell, it might hurt a bit, but he’d be safe, and there’d be someone to comfort him, help him regroup and tackle the challenge again.
This is the key exponential growth: learning from others that have “been there” and can navigate you through the challenges. Coaches that will guide, encourage, and challenge you – but also comfort, protect and “catch” you when you bite off a bit more than you can chew.
Being overprotective has it’s place. So does growth and challenge.
And you can find happiness in both.