Go Figure It Out Yourself

The more I learn about child development, the more fascinated I get at the similarity of the fundamentals between adult professional growth and child development.

Consider the following advice from Baby Center on helping your child develop fast:

It’s important not to frustrate your child with toys and activities that are way beyond his abilities, but a little struggling goes a long way toward learning new skills.

When an activity doesn’t come easily to your baby, he has to figure out a new way to accomplish the task. That type of problem solving is the stuff better brains are made of. If he’s attempting to open a box, for example, resist the urge to do it for him. Let him try first. If he continues to struggle, show him how it’s done, but then give him back a closed box so he can try again on his own.

Setting a goal or target, which is not unrealistic but certainly a stretch, and letting the child figure out how to get there, is the primary premise of learning. I wrote an earlier blog post about the Creative Stretch as well.

ImageThis child development model is similar to how the knowledge professionals should be groomed, matured and trained. Give a challenging goal and let them figure it out themselves.

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The Creative Stretch

If you are driving to the grocery store couple of miles away from your home, your planning for the trip will be minimal compared to planning a cross-country road trip. For grocery store, a cursory look at the fuel gauge may suffice. For the road trip, if you have enough resources, you need extensive planning. Money, maintenance, weather and time all become considerations. The very notion of a destination far away forces you to think and plan differently – encouraging and even forcing to be creative.

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Our road trip 2003

Think of a startup. It is typically cash-strapped. One way forward is to grow organically. You depend on the revenues you generate. You build slowly while keeping the lights on. All investments are conservative and cautious. As you keep the liabilities to a minimum, you also limit the flexibility and freedom of action. You first ensure cash flow to sustain the monthly expenses before you think of hiring or availing that training opportunity.

The alternate path is to get external financing – say from a venture capitalist. You give up some of your equity in the company and have more stakeholders to answer to. But you also get this doze of welcome cash that lets you not worry about the next payroll or rent payment. Money is not a variable anymore at-least in the short term.  You have more space to be creative and think and plan big. With enough resources, you can plan a road trip rather than just be confined to visit to your local grocery store. You are encouraged – even forced – to be creative and think big. You can actually accomplish much bigger things.

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