turtle crossing

I recently lectured Claire on the difference between bad ideas and good ideas (because she wouldn’t stop shaking mommy’s craft table to the point where stuff was about to fall on her head). I explained in no uncertain terms, “Sweetheart, it’s time to learn the difference between bad ideas and good ideas. Bad ideas have bad consequences for yourself, other people, or God. Good ideas have good consequences for yourself, other people, or God. Can you say, ‘Consequence’? Con-se-quence.” She was riveted.

She will learn this lesson, because I won’t raise a fool. Evaluating results before acting is something that separates wise people from fools.

But good advice to tiny children often becomes dangerous advice to mature adults. Consequence evaluation often degenerates into risk aversion, because as we get older we focus more on the possible negative consequences. Consequently, we ignore the possibilities for good. Since we see only potential failure, we stop taking risks altogether.

We don’t take the job because we might not be good at it. We never start exercising because we assume we’ll eventually quit. We half-bake tasks or assignments because someone else does them better with less effort. We don’t plant churches because people might not come. We focus on the possibility that we might fail and therefore look or feel stupid. Nevermind the chance to change the world, the future, or ourselves.

What if we evaluated risk based not on the probability of success but rather the value of the goal?

NOTE: In light of my 30th birthday and in honor of the guys who have all the fun, I’ll be offering thirty reflections in thirty days starting December 19th. Today’s post is #3 (see the so-far list here). The only rule is that I have 250 words to make my point. After that just stop reading. Thanks for making my blog part of your internet experience.