If You Keep Bailing Someone Out, Will They Ever Learn?

This is a question I asked myself several times and especially after having children.  Our natural compassion leads us to want to help someone who is struggling, but are we “really” helping them by stepping in?  May be and may be not.

Please Help Me OutMy mother was a home economics professor and I grew up in a near sterile environment.  India, at that time, had a number of illnesses and my mom was very scared of us contracting any of them.  I was not allowed to eat or drink anything outside our home, until I was off to college.  Living and eating in the dorm was far from the conditions that I grew up in and I found myself getting sick often.  In fact, I missed 2 semesters of exams due to typhoid and hepatitis.  However, once I recovered from them, I could eat anywhere and not get sick.  My non-medical opinion is that I did develop some immunity and strengthened my system.

My wife and I made a pact before we had children.  We both agreed that we would not interfere with a child’s decision unless their action would result in irreparable or irreversible damage.  Therefore, breaking a limb was okay for us, but not crossing the road and risking being run over.   I am not sure how the mothers reading this post would feel about what we did, but it was a conscious decision, given how I was raised.  I was never allowed to cross the road, much less taught how to do it.

We learn a ton from our mistakes.  If only our society could reduce the stigma surrounding mistakes and re-framed failure as a learning opportunity, we would accelerate our growth – both in business and our personal lives.  If we don’t allow ourselves or our children to make mistakes, how will we ever learn life’s many great lessons.  Some may argue that we could learn from our teachers, parents and others.  In my opinion, there is so much more to learn and it varies from individual to individual.  Experience is something that is gained, not taught.

I have seen this quote by many folks and I am not sure who originally said it.  It has been attributed to Barry LePatner, Will Rogers and Rita Mae Brown.

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”

I would really like to hear your thoughts on this topic.  How far do you take it?  What’s worked for you and what are some pitfalls?

Peace and be well,

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