So here’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately: Do we let our friends/family/loved ones fail because it’s good for them?
Here’s the specific situation that prompted me to ponder this. A close pal of mine is a part-time sports coach in addition to his regular day job. Well, this past summer he decided to take on a second part-time coaching gig, which means he’s now coaching in the early morning before work and then again in the evenings immediately after work. His working day essentially lasts from 5:30 am to 8:30 pm, with literally an hour or so of free time in the evening before he has to go to bed. Between the three gigs he’s making decent money, but IMO it’s not nearly worth it. When he was thinking about taking on the second gig I advised him against it, and I continue to advise him against. I think the lack of free time is lethal, but even worse, I figured that he would shortchange at least one of the three gigs in terms of effort, creativity, and dedication. He would always be tired and cut corners. To make matters worse, one of the coaching gigs is for a club that I used to be a part of, so I have an emotional stake in the matter. I would hate to see him shortchange my old club.
Reason why this hits home is because I’ve been in this exact situation. I did two coaching gigs, morning and evening, sandwiched between graduate school classes and a part-time job. I wanted to do everything well, but the end result was that I halfassed my job and one of the coaching gigs. At about the mid-season point, I took an honest evaluation of my performance and estimated that I was only giving 75-80% of a full effort to either of the coaching gigs and my work performance was like a C+ level. I was about an A- student. There just wasn’t enough energy and creativity to go around.
I tell my pal about all of this often but he’s fully engaged and plowing through it. I can see signs that he’s slowing down and starting to cut corners. He cancels practices and does coaching stuff while at work.
But I’m starting to think that it’s okay for him to go down the path he’s on simply for the experience. He’s young, in his mid 20′s, and I think getting overextended might be good for him. It’ll push his boundaries and give him future perspective when he’s faced with a lot of options. Maybe it will help him build up organizational skills and endurance. The best comparison I can think of is starting a business. Even though it’s probable that your first business will fail (50% of new businesses fail within 4 years ), I would never recommend not doing it. Your first business is like chasing the dream. Even in failure, the experience can be valuable. Right?
I think our relationships are like this. For the vast majority of us, our first couple of relationships will end in failure. It’s probable that our first marriage will end in failure (50%). If we’re on the ball, we learn something from each failure and it makes us a better partner. The experience is valuable. But is that relationship experience worth it for the series of burnt bridges we leave behind us?
So what do you think? Do we advise our younger colleagues for or against a course of action, even though our own experience tells us that they’ll fail? And what about our relationships…even if we know it’s likely the relationship will end in the dumps, do you go through it anyway? I think so. Otherwise we risk never taking risks and experiencing what’s out there.