Speed Bumps are created to slow us down. Not to stop us but to simply provide a hindrance. We typically find them in place for safety reasons, places where going too fast can be dangerous, like apartment or office complexes. They come in various forms, some being much more “effective” than others. You can choose to ignore them, to maintain a higher speed, but you have to take the risk of damage (to your vehicle or your jaw) from the jolt they may inflict. Some of them are designed to give quite a kick.
Life is full of situations that slow us down. Things that hinder us but don’t stop us. Things that might throw us off course enough to slow our momentum but if we take them in stride, we can continue on and get to our destination. Many times if we slow down, assess the size and style of the speed bump and proceed appropriately, the damage will be minimized. Other times if we try to ignore them and maintain our pace we may suffer a little (or a lot).
Over the past couple of years it is easy to identify many examples of speed bumps in life. The pandemic alone offers us almost daily dealings with change and situations that cause us to pause, assess and proceed with caution. Additionally, our work and school lives produce many situations that may not go as planned. Obstacles pop up and require a change of pace but don’t necessarily lead to a dead end.
I see scenarios with the boys where I feel they have been adequately prepared for speed bumps. Different situations where they have been forced to adjust their pace in order to maintain their path and get to their goal. College seems full of these and is one reason I believe a college education provides value, even though some may disagree. Sure, any life situation will force a person, especially a young person with limited experiences, to adapt, improvise and overcome speed bumps. College seems to provide a more controlled environment for young people to learn through these situations (with the hope and expectation that these controlled situations are realistic enough to be valuable).
In these situations (controlled or not), I feel the boys have navigated their speed bumps well. While my youngest has a little more of a “maintain speed and take the hit” approach (we often joke that planning is a “Future Josh” problem – meaning he will deal with it when the time comes to require it), both boys seem to adapt well and slow down. Even when bigger obstacles come up (more walls rather than speed bumps), they seem to have the attitude to figure out a way over, around or under. While some outside influences may impair their judgement at times, for the most part they follow the guidance of “make good choices” and navigate the speed bumps well.
I can think of a few things that have helped produce this attitude and the list includes freedom to fail. Given a chance to deal with a situation, determine their own approach and then a chance for that to falter so that they learn how to adjust. That is important. If they are not exposed to decision making and outcomes (good or bad), they will not learn how to adapt. Land the helicopter parenting and let them figure it out.
Also, the enemy of good is perfect. If you have to get from point A to point B in X time, and you hit a few speed bumps, you may be late. That is okay. Plan better next time but being late is not the end of the world. (This is a point everyone should emphasize with new drivers – arrive late and in one piece!) If something comes up that causes them to adjust their approach, the end results may not be what they initially intended but so be it. If it isn’t close enough, not good enough, if it just won’t do, then try again. If it will work as is, great! Move on to the next thing. Oftentimes something has to give, whether it is in business, school work or life in general. Time, quality, cost- somewhere you may have to adjust to get it done when a speed bump changes the “happy path” you had originally planned.
Not to say we should instruct our kids to live with “good enough”. Don’t compromise or settle in any area of life. That will often lead to regret. But being able to take on the speed bumps and keep focused on the destination without throwing in the towel, because perfection is out of reach, is an important skill. Balance is key.
There are many other elements of raising your kids (or even helping your staff or teammates) that you can employ to help get over the speed bumps. Adaptation, independent thinking, determination all play key factors. Emphasizing these areas and similar skills will enable people (kids and adults alike) when the obstacles arise. It isn’t always easy but if they have the right tools, it keeps everything possible, even if you have to slow down a little for the speed bumps.