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Extend Some Slack In That Rope

"Failure creates pain. Pain creates self discipline. Self discipline creates wise choices. Wise choices creates sustainable success."

Results and outcomes of life, business, parenting, marriage, and faith are all by-products of millions of repeated daily decisions we choose to make or choose not to make. As life begins, we are a child growing up in a world in which we don’t make many of them, but as we get older, we begin to make more of them with each passing day. And the older we get, the more we realize we have made some really terrible decisions and some really good ones, but furthermore, understand the brevity of decisions we made in the past and the sometimes lethal affect they could have had or did have, or sometimes positive life-changing affect that one single decision may have had.

Recently, 5 young boys in Michigan thought it would be fun to throw rocks at cars on an overpass. They did so until one rock penetrated a window, and killed a man. It has since been decided that those 5 innocent young boys would be tried as adults and charge with second degree murder. Young boys, a split second what seemed like fun decision turned into the death of a 32 year old man and now facing hard prison time.

We can all think of times when we did something maybe even similar, or something that we look back and thought, we could have been killed ourselves, or we could have greatly affected the outcome of someone else’s life, in split second decisions we have made. As I became a parent, is when my own decision making became drastically better, as I realized life was no longer about my selfish inconsiderate pleasure and fun seeking nonstop decisions, and now my wife and I were deciding based on potential outcomes that would affect the lives our a set of twins. As I say, PK, was Nels version 1.0, and subsequent years, has had some “software updates” leading to Nels version 10.0. But we look to think about helping our children with the analogy of a rope. We have a rope tied around the waist of our children, and at the age of up to 1 o 2, we have that rope held tightly up against us with zero slack. And as they grow with age, we begin to put more slack in the rope, meaning they get further away from us and are allowed to make decisions, wrong or right, the whole time, we are their to “pull up the slack”, catch them before they fall to their “death”. But in that process, we let them have just enough slack, that when they make a bad decision, we let them skid their knees. We let them skid their nose, forehead, we let them feel the pain of that bad decision. Because if we don’t let them feel the pain of that bad decision, and create a negative effect, they will make the same bad decision again. We must allow them to make bad decisions and fail, sometimes fairly bad, but we are always there as the “safety net” to pull up the slack if we foresee a decision is going to hurt them for life or a very prolonged period of time. And by the time they are a senior in high school, the rope has very long bit of slack, and they can sometime skid pretty hard. But, it must be long, because in a few months, you will no longer have a hold of that rope, because you hand them that rope as they go out the door to college.. You can no longer provide that safety net, you won’t be there to catch them. We can either let them skid their knees and nose up while they are under our roof and we can help them recover, learn, and gain wisdom from the decision, or we can let them fail when we can’t catch them. How many parents can we think of whom never gave enough slack in the rope to let their kids skid their knees hard and learn, and went from no slack to complete slack, and failer miserably in this brutal world!?

The same principle applies in business, as a farmer, rancher, veterinarian, or any business. We must let the next generation make some mistakes and feel the pain of a bad decision while we are there or alive to reel that rope back in so that the decision doesn’t sink the operation. I see this all too often in farms, feedyards, and businesses, where the legacy builder is so controlling and never lets the next generation make decisions, until the day they die, and once they are gone, that next generation doesn’t remotely know how to make a decision, doesn’t know how to move forward, or makes some repeated poor decisions that produce this slow, decaying, dying death of the farm, feedyard, family business, or any business.

We must empower the next generation, be it our kids or leaders, to make decisions. We must allow them the love of pain and extent the grace to not fail too miserably while we can still “hold the rope” and “reel the slack” in so it isn’t too lethal. Failure creates pain. Pain creates self discipline. Self discipline creates wise choices. And wise choices creates sustainable success. To leave a legacy business or create a successful adult, it must be able to go one without YOU! Let them make choices that fail, but start that at age 2 and 3, not as teens throwing rocks at cars on overpasses. And as we talk leadership, the only qualification of being a leader, is making decisions that influence other people. You might as well make the choice and be a great leader!

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