Wise Words

The Importance of Taking Risks

May 23, 2018

You may not know this about me but I am a dyed-in-the-wool, hardwired baseball fan. And, before you ask — yes, this is a relatively new thing for me. And no, it’s not just any baseball team — just the Washington Nationals. I’m really not quite sure how it happened, but it did. I love watching them play. And yes, I was one of those crazy people in the stands last night after the spectacular thunderstorm, cheering when Michael A. Taylor hit the walk-off that saved the game. It was a rather unique experience and when I have grandchildren one day, I will be able to say to them with pride, “Yes, granny was there.”

There are a lot of reasons to love baseball: the skill it takes to throw a pitch, singing “Take me out to the ball game” at the seventh inning stretch, the racing presidents, oh, and hot dogs (how could I forget the hot dogs?). But in all seriousness, watching the Nat’s lose and come back for a win last night is another reason I really love baseball. Baseball players know how to take risks and deal with failure. They understand what it means to take a chance and the cost of having it fail, but getting up to tackle it again.

The entire game, in fact, is based on taking risks. It’s an important life lesson we want children to learn here at NCRC. It’s also an important life lesson that we, as adults, need to remind ourselves of every day. No innovation, no Fortune 500 company. No culture-changing idea was built on taking the safe road or the way that’s assured. Innovation only happens when you “steal second” only to be tagged out or go for the home run, only to swing and miss a few times. You learn from these “mistakes.”

So, when your child is trying to master that new skill, like using scissors or climbing an obstacle on the playground, or they just want to try something that you’re afraid may not work—think about baseball. Let them give it a try. In fact, let them swing at it as hard as they can and see what happens. The worst thing that could happen is they swing and miss. But they could also very well knock it out of the park and win it all.

P.S. Some of the authors who’ve written and lectured about the importance of this phenomenon are Carol Dweck, in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” Jessica Lahey in her book “The gift of Failure: How the best parents learn to let go so their children can succeed,” and Alina Tugend, in her book “Better by Mistake: The unexpected benefits of being wrong.”

Dr. Valaida Wise

Head of School

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