Girls (and Boys, well all People): Be Fearless and Live Dangerously!

Depending on your propensity to live fearlessly, this is probably either a great title or not to open an article with, considering the circumstances of the moment with Covid-19 (aka the novel-Coronavirus).

Whatever your take, it is a refresh and update to an older article I wrote some years back with a clarion call to girls to be fearless and live dangerously. And as the theme of my article before this one strove to be gender neutral and gender inclusive, I decided to continue with the same tone here.

A colleague today posed a question on chat around leadership, asking, “How do we develop genuine leadership vaues with our daughter(s) during their precious childhood?”

As a mother of 4 daughters, I felt I was humbly qualified to share a perspective and what immediately came to mind for me were the articles I wrote some time ago encouraging girls to take risks and parents to not get in the way (Girls: be fearless and live dangerously! and An open letter to well-intentioned BUT misguided parents of young girls).

The me that is 3 years wiser (and still learning!) realized the advice then had been well-intentioned and should really be addressed to all.

Yes, research has shown that people are generally more predisposed to taking more care of girls and protecting them more, and the lessons of life for little girls growing up tended to lead to young women who are more perfectionistic and less comfortable with taking risks and making mistakes and picking themselves up with from failures. Yet I have also seen some of that protectiveness showered on and standards expected of boys too, especially so amongst Asian families, which leads some young men to have the same inclinations with similar limitations in their life and career.

As a whole, we who have the responsibility of caring for young people (children are people too!) would do well to consider how we equip our young charges for the VUCA world by giving them a safe platform to try, to fall and to pick themselves up and try again. And that means we need to step aside sometimes, however hard it may be, to let them experiment and pursue what they love doing, explore and figure out who they are and have their back no matter what other people might say, so long as their journey is anchored with great values. Then, no matter how they turn out, I am sure they will make wonderful leaders (and people; leaders are people too!) with genuine values. Whether they are daughters or sons, this would be the best gift of parenting we could gift to them.

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