Manuel Lora, my faithful team mate, helps me with this blog and often makes great suggestions for content and passes on interesting links. This week he sent me an article that argues when parents praise their teens too much it can result in laziness and a lack of resilience. As a result, the teens crumble at the smallest sign of failure. I imagine Manuel sent this to me because of my interest in parenting and mentoring. Manuel has a darling son (most photographed child in the universe…but let’s face it, he’s worth it!!) who just started walking; my kids are all in their 20s. This has led to many interesting conversations.
When I wrote a response to Manuel, he suggested that I share it in this blog:
Dear Manuel: Thanks for the article. Parenting is such a balancing act. My watchwords with my kids were “logical consequences.” Whenever possible, let the kids take the logical consequences of their action, as long as it is not super dangerous (a little danger is inevitable). And don’t condition them to expect your praise. Instead of saying “I’m so proud of you” I’d try to say “I can see this is really something special for you and you feel great, right?” But it is a trial to be consistent time after time. Luckily, all three of mine have strong self-esteem but not the fragility mentioned in the article. Phew!
This all applies to entrepreneurs and their mentors as well. Mentors have to balance encouragement and empathy with tough love. And entrepreneurs definitely have to be ready for failure. At certain times, the mentor has to let the inexperienced entrepreneur learn the lesson firsthand (trying to sell and getting rejected). But at other times the logical consquences are major (not putting the right people on the patent application), the mentor should step in and put on the brakes.
It’s sorting out which strategy is right for which circumstance that drives us all crazy.