Dignity of Risk

‘Niff Noodle Noo’ is the sub title for thoughts that don’t quite fit in the theme titles I have been using. Now when you see a ‘Niff Noodle Noo’ you will know what to expect! By the way, my wife just said, “are you writing another blob?” I delicately told her it was called a blog…yep…don’t tell her I told you this! Fortunately she laughed at herself – she is the best!

Ever had the experience where you hear a phrase you haven’t heard before but it makes complete sense to you? I had that happen last night. We had dinner with a close friend who is recovering from a recent stroke. He is doing incredibly well, I think partly because he is so in tune with his internal world. Years ago this friend spent many hours helping me work through my broken family life, giving advice and perspective that I still glean from today.

He was sharing what a day now looks like describing his therapy sessions and the daily grind of getting better. He then used a term that arrested my attention and all of a sudden I was off with the fairies (some would say I am always with the fairies!). ‘Dignity of Risk’. Wow, I knew EXACTLY what he meant even before he explained himself.

I learn best if someone shows me the basics and goes away to leave me work it out. It gives me dignity when I am allowed to take a risk. Whether I fail or succeed in the first few tries is fairly irrelevant. Trial and error awards me the satisfaction of the ‘ah ha’ moment when I finally figure it out. I am one of those guys who only uses the manual if something goes drastically wrong – yes I am the dangerous kind of ‘handy man’. Are there any other weird people out there like me, or am I on my own here?

When we own the risk, it means more and gives our achievement weight and substance. What is unhelpful is having someone with little patience, offering help before you have a chance to process and make a plan. I have to bite my lip around my wife when we are in close proximity to a computer. If I don’t allow her the ‘dignity of risk’ to learn by trial and error, I rob her of the dignity that comes with independence.

I am mindful of this with our daughters. It requires me to exercise serious self-control in order to facilitate a struggle so learning can be incubated. Whether you are a parent of a company, child, project or church, you are required to go against your primal intuition to ‘control’ affording others the dignity of taking a risk. When you do this you make room for growth and independence.

You can give dignity by letting go even if it means you have to witness something unwind. Life isn’t about doing things perfectly anyway. Stop yourself from managing chaos on behalf of others – make room for some mess in your life.  It may be the healthiest gift you could give someone. Here endeth the lesson to myself!!!

One thought on “Dignity of Risk

  1. Being a perfectionist is no fun. It doesn't mean your perfect. It just means you beat yourself up when you're not perfect…err, I mean you beat yourself up ALL the time.

    A lot of the time, you just end up doing NOTHING, rather than do something “imperfectly”…it's tormenting. 😦

    However, having kids is helping & healing me. They force me to face things about myself…and deal with them. It's such a blessing. 🙂


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