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Archive for December, 2007

This morning, my kids were acting strange. They were whiny and cried a lot, and one of them had woken up several times in the middle of the night – all of which are, thankfully, unusual behaviors in our household.

I tried to tell whether they were sick or not by taking their temperatures, but they didn’t have fevers. I tried to ask if they were in pain, but no matter how I phrase it, the answer is always yes. Our conversations go like this. Does your tummy hurt? Yeah. Does your head hurt? Yeah. Does your cheek hurt? Yes. Does your funny bone hurt? Yes. Very helpful.

I really wanted to know if they were sick or just cranky, so I could make a good decision about whether to send them to school. But I didn’t have a lot of information at my disposal. I had to guess, and trust my gut. My instinct told me that if they weren’t actually sick then they were at least pretty tired, and that I should keep them home from school.

As I thought about it, I realized that with my kids, I am often having to make decisions without all the information that I’d like to have. I have to just trust my judgement and make a call and hope its the right one. This actually happens a lot in business as well. As much as we’d like to be able to predict future outcomes, most of us have limited information. The information we seek is often unavailable, costly or even unreliable, so we have to just go with what we have. It can be hard to trust your judgement, and sometimes even harder to convince your colleagues to let you trust your gut.

That’s where parenting helps. It gives you a chance to practice trusting your gut. I’m going to try taking advantage of these opportunities, instead of dreading them, in hopes that when I have to use my judgement at work, I’ll be better at it. Ideally, just having more confidence in my gut decisions will inspire other folks to trust my gut as well.

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I watched the Fog of War last night – what a great movie. In it, McNamara and Morris highlight 11 life lessons. I’m not saying that raising kids is like going to war, but I will admit that some days it feels like it. Many of the principles apply pretty well to raising children, so I thought it was worth posting them here.

11 principles –

#1 Empathize with your enemy.
#2 Rationality will not save us.
#3 There’s something beyond one’s self.
#4 Maximize efficiency.
#5 Proportionality should be a guideline in war
#6 Get the data
#7 Belief and seeing are both often wrong
#8 Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.
#9 In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.
#10 Never say never. (And its corollary, Never answer the question that is asked of you, answer the question that you wish had been asked of you.)
#11 You can”t change human nature.

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