Let’s Begin at the Beginning

If you were to look around in nature for something to emulate you could do worse than a dandelion.

Hear me out.

Dandelions are survival machines. Dandelions flourish anywhere and in any weather.  Dandelions will punch through concrete to live. Poison may wilt them but they will come back, again and again and again. If you are a gardener and you want to assure that your seeds will grow, cultivate dandelions.

It’s not a big stretch as metaphors go to compare parenting to gardening. As a parent your children are a bit of yourself that you hope will grow and flower, bear fruit, and endure. I look around – most frequently at people whose financial status or color afford them a privileged existence (I am a member of this demographic) – and don’t see many dandelions. Rather, I see parents who think and act as though their kids are special little snowflakes; children whose uniqueness implies some sort of fitness or usefulness.  I’m going to be as honest as I can with you here: special little snowflakes may look pretty but they are fragile; they are destroyed in all but an ideal environment. If it gets a little too hot or a little too cold, those special little snowflakes melt or freeze solid.

In my own quest to parent my child I’ve spent the last 16 years trying to cultivate a dandelion. In the last decade I have been mentoring young boys to become young men and I’ve applied the same toolkit aimed at developing robust and resilient individuals who – to borrow Nassim Taleb’s concept and book title – are Anti-Fragile.

The dandelion can be typified by a singular mantra – “Fuck it, I’ve got it.”

Forget the fear of failure that bubbles up when we confront the anxiety of uncertainty or high stakes situations. Trust in yourself to have the flexibility, ingenuity, and confidence to make a decision and take action. “Fuck it, I’ve got it,” hence forth FIGI (pronounced like the island, and yes I know that is spelled differently), is my philosophy on life. It is fairly simple, though not always easy, to live that philosophy in an authentic way. However, and you will have to trust me for now, it is worth the effort.

 

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