Defense Is Not The Complete Answer

We shouldn’t fear risk. Just know about it.

When I was young, parents taught the idea of risk, they did not make a huge effort in the area of defense. A lot of the things my friends and I did then would land our parents in jail today. I recall leaving grade 2 (age 7) and taking the bus by myself to swimming lessons, then home, after dark, on the bus again. I recall going shopping for shoes by myself when I was eight.

We played outside for hours, often far from home. We looked out for each other. Home for meals and bedtime was normal.

I remember at 12 riding my bike with a friend 18 or so miles into the lakes to go fishing. Good thing it was mostly downhill on the way home.

It was not that no one cared, it was because they were sane.

Risk is two part.

Risk is a continuum. There is the cost of an occurence and the probability of same. There is a space between catastrophe and nothing where people can learn. A fright goes a long way to teaching children and people about what is possible. It helps them learn about playing defense.

Most sports provide a scene where mistakes are common and the thoughtful players learn to be better. There are others like the shoe buying expedition.

People learn a great deal by trying. The overseer must of course know what is the likely worst case and be prepared to accept it. Notice “likely worst case” There are few practical defenses to the unlikely worst case.

Never deprive yourself or anyone else of the chance to be wrong and learn something.

This whole thing came up by way of a happy convergence in my world

First, a discussion with my daughter about free range children and one of her neighbours.

Next, Scott Adams and Dilbert

Finally, Tyler Cowen on an End User Licence Agreement on a paper towel dispenser. Here

As Dilbert says, you can be too careful. Rules, law, and lawyers are necessary but overdone. They diminish society rather than enhance it.

Perfection and certainty have a price

If you seek a perfect world, or demand certainty, before acting, you will make few decisions. Decision making is an error prone activity and you get better at it by making more decisions. On your own. The only real requirement is you can afford the price of the inevitable mistakes.

You must learn limitations and possibilities, and you do that by making mistakes and by having successes. Experience is the best teacher. How will you decide what to learn if you have no mistakes? Taking a chance advances you.

Knowing your limitations and the nature of the playing field where you find yourself will take you much further than will great care. Learn adaptation. It is a great and useful skill.

Most of the protective parent approach makes parents feel better and does little for the child.

Two thoughts:

“A man’s got to know his limitations.” Dirty Harry in Magnum Force

“I have never learned a thing being right” My late friend and client Jim Knight

Learn from experience and apply what you learn Understand the idea of Risk-Reward.


I help business owners, and professionals understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages to acquire more efficient income and larger, more liquid estates.

Please be in touch if I can help you. don@moneyfyi.com 705-927-4770

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