Risk Considered: Messiness and Learning through the eyes of a father
Learning is messy…you’ve probably heard this one before, and experienced it in the form of one project or another: whether it was writing an essay, learning a new subject, or fixing a project in your house. But, when you have a two-year-old this phrase takes on new meaning. Learning is messy…more like life is messy! And that really is the heart of the message – life is learning, and life is messy.
My home life feels like I am constantly cleaning up someone else’s mess…and this person doesn’t care about the mess that he makes – in fact, he enjoys it. I do my best to help him by learning that we must clean up after our messes, and he is learning by routine to help at bed time to help me cleanup…but his heart is really not in it. He’d rather get in a couple more minutes of train time before he has to settle down for bedtime.
We practice routines and keep him on schedule – we do the best that we can to keep him on track, and he learns all the time…and makes a mess wherever he can!
I think that fatherhood has helped me to both embrace the messiness of learning as well as the importance of consideration – the consideration of where and when messes are appropriate, as well as how I can prepare for messy situations by being as safe as possible: like separating entities from one another during rambunctious times (i.e. the dog, who my two-year-old terrorizes during train / truck runs in the kitchen).
Some people think that we are overly prepared and have done a lot…maybe too much…to baby-proof the house. But as soon as one thing is overlooked, he challenges it and, lo and behold, he injures himself on the one object or situation in question! It’s like the universe is telling me to scrutinize all objects and situations and analyze the risks, assess it and protect what I can so that my child can be as safe as possible…so that we may have as much fun as possible. It seems contradictory that in order to have fun I have to be extremely serious and overly analytical, but I feel that this is exactly what I must do in order to have the kind of fun that both my son and I enjoy! I looked at safety and did what I could to prepare the house, the yard, the car – now, let’s forget about it and have some fun (sometimes with wild abandon) and hope that the hours of work that I have done will be enough to protect us.
I think that my job is very similar to this – I relate the analytical measures I do with a client to the baby gates and safety measures, locks on doors and blocking off of areas; I work with a client to understand their business and assess their risks. We then talk about the insurance policies that they will need to protect their business and its employees, as well as some of the other preventable pieces that we can implement, like safety trainings and employee handbooks – items that can help to educate a business’ employees and indoctrinate them into a culture of safety, learning, and respect.
This interactive learning environment that we create together is like the learning environment I foster with my child in which we embrace the fun that we can have together….or at least, in theory. I think that each business has a certain amount of fun with it (or at least, it should) and the business should do what it can to protect its employees. Then, the supervisors can step out of the way and let the employees have fun with their work, their jobs, and working with people. The company, having provided resources to learn about job safety, the culture of the workplace, and the methods of protection in place can now step aside and let its employees operate the business. These boundaries and structure create an atmosphere wherein people know their expectations and, hopefully, are respected as individuals – this gives people a sense of value both as individuals and part of the whole.
Ultimately, that sense of value is what we all want out of life; if we get that out of the workplace, people will want to take ownership of their part in the business, be happier and more fulfilled, and will be less likely to leave their job. They also will be more likely to try to get others onboard with the culture of respect and safety set place by their management, for whom they have much respect. It takes a lot of time to invest in our employees on this kind of level – but, ultimately, it pays off…
For a moment, let’s think about reckless behavior – whether it is using a tool on the jobsite without wearing eye protection or driving a car too fast, we have all been in this state of reckless abandon at some point in our lives – most of us, however, have a sense of consciousness that we should re-engage with tactful thoughts and behaviors to be safe (both for ourselves and for the safety of others). A two-year-old, however, has no tact – he simply exists to challenge barriers, push the limits, have fun and see what he can do with items…usually by trying to break them.
Not all two year olds are as extreme as my kid – and this extremism can be challenging – but it makes life really interesting and fun! It keeps me on my toes, though – I have to always balance fun with a measure of safety…or an awareness that I have put enough safety measures in place in order to have fun, currently. It is exhausting, but the most rewarding endeavor I have done in my lifetime.
I think that a business is like a child: you need to really invest in it and analyze the risks associated with the child and its environment, study that particular child and evolve with its changing needs during different stages of life and development. Adaptation and reinvention are at the heart of this learning endeavor; in order to take on the next challenges with the knowledge of what has come before, we must constantly assess the situation, unique to person or business, and reinvent ourselves as people – which is to say, we are an amalgam of everything that we have experienced before and not a different person altogether. We can be both parents, analysts, professionals and non-professionals at the exact same time.
Let’s reinvent the way we live by changing our perspectives…
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