I’ve had the privilege in the last 12 months of watching my 2 youngest daughters very rapidly transition into high-functioning, self-sufficient young adults. It happened so fast. I didn’t realise it was coming like that.
One minute I had a 15- and 16-year-old at high school.
The next minute I had:
- a 17-year-old licenced driver with her first car, milking full time at a job she got for herself, coming home each day with eyes sparkling and covered in cowshit, and
- a 16-year-old paying cash for a late-model 150cc motorbike on her birthday, organising every aspect of the process, from the research through to the courses and tests and insurance.
They both want independence. They’re both resourceful and capable.
It’s terrifying and glorious.
But that’s all context for what I really want to write today.
I want to talk about risks, resilience, and preparedness.
Risks, resilience, and being prepared
I experienced some of that “terrifying and glorious” at the beginning of this year. Here’s how it went.
I had just got off the phone with my youngest.
I was on another island, hundreds of kilometres from her. And she was just about to take her new motorbike for a spin around our neighbourhood.
There were risks involved in this exercise.
I was confident that she was prepared.
And because of that, both she and I had a good idea of a range of possible outcomes, and were prepared for those.
Being prepared for any possible outcomes is one of the fundamentals of resilience.
How to get prepared
Here’s how she prepared.
The day of her 16th birthday was the day she picked up her motorbike. She got online and organised insurance. The same day, she sat and passed her written driver’s licence test. Then she took a skills course to make sure she was prepared to handle the bike.
And now she was ready to go for a ride.
She was home alone. No one was there to see her off or supervise or welcome her back and debrief after the ride.
I was shitting myself.
Here’s how we prepared.
The phone conversation went like this:
Me: OK, let’s just run through a couple of scenarios before you head out, since no one’s there with you.
Me: What happens if you drop the bike?
(She has once already, and it’s pretty heavy, and she’s not a big kid. She needed help to pick it up.)
Her: I’ll try to pick it up, first. But if I can’t, I’ll call Papa.
(Thank goodness for amazing grandparents – my dad used to train Ministry of Transport Motorbike Officers.)
Me: Yup, perfect. You might be able to pick it up. But before you call Papa, look around. Can you see anyone outside their house? Can you see a house that looks like someone’s home? If there’s someone nearby who looks strong enough to help, ask them first.
Her: Oh, ok, yup.
Me: OK, now what if the worst happens and you crash into something, or a car bumps you or something?
Her: I call the police.
Me: Well yep, if it’s bad enough, sure. But let’s say you crash into a parked car. You don’t need to call the police right then. What do you think you can do?
Her: Go into the house where the car is parked and try to see if someone’s home. Is that the kind of answer you’re looking for?
Me: Yup, you can, but I was thinking more of your welfare. You’ve just had an accident, and you don’t need to freak out, because you’re not actually alone. I think the answer is pretty much the same as the first one: Do what you can do yourself, look for help nearby, and call Papa if all else fails. Of course, if you’re hurt, call 111.
Her: Oh, ok. Yup.
(She is not a woman of many words, LOL.)
Me: OK, so call me when you get home so I know you’re safe.
Being prepared, mentally, can be the difference between life and death
It’s like drownings at the beach.
In general, people don’t drown because they can’t swim. They drown because they panic, and that means they can’t make resourceful decisions and they get exhausted, FAST.
If, before you (or your kids) went into the water, you thought through some what-ifs, then when one of those things happens, your brain says, OK, this is one of those things we planned for. I know what to do.
And if you find this train of thought offensive, please know I lost my first husband to a drowning at a beach.
I speak to this because IT IS REAL.
Risks, resilience, and being prepared in career and business
And how about in your career or in your business?
Businesses take risks all the time.
We often call them “calculated risks” because we’ve done the calculations and decided that it’s a level of risk we can carry.
I’d suggest we can take more risks more comfortably and be more resilient through the potential outcomes if we ran a number of “if – then” scenarios.
If this happens, we can respond like that. If X happens, we can respond with Y, or Z.
What’s something you’re NOT doing because of fear or risk?
What can you do to prepare for the possible outcomes, so you know you’ll have a resilient response no matter what?
Brené Brown tells us, if you enter the arena, if you choose to show up vulnerably, you WILL fail.
Not might, WILL.
The trick is knowing that failure is a very real possibility, and preparing yourself for what you’ll do when it happens.
That’s strength, courage, leadership, and innovation.
And within those, I sat, and waited for my daughter to call me and tell me she got home safe.
(PS – she dropped the bike. She asked someone to help her pick it up. She got home safe. See how that works?)