Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On Parenting and Leadership

         I recently finished reading this book:

It really got me thinking about a lot of things. For instance, how might Life be seen as a "Battlefield", and what exactly is it we are all fighting over? How might the world be different, if parents saw themselves as Leaders of their children, and oriented their family life around a clear Mission Statement? The book contends that "There are no bad teams, only bad leaders." If this is true, could it also be true that "There are no bad kids, only bad parents"?

As a consequence of these considerations and more, I have embarked on a journey to incorporate the principles discussed in Extreme Ownership... into a book that is specifically oriented towards parenting. This may mean the actual parenting of children, or, if someone doesn't have children of their own, it may be a kind of refresher for parenting or re-parenting themselves. I hope to include information from two other Udemy courses I've taken, with instructor Gregory Caremans, "Neuroscience for Parents: How to Raise Amazing Kids", and "The Science of Leadership". Both of these courses draw on the application of the Neurocognitive Behavioral Approach or NBA, originally established in France as l'approache Neurocognitive et Comportementale by Dr. Jacques Fradin. You can get a very brief summary of NBA principles from the free course "Meet Your Brain: A Short Introduction to Neuroscience".

Now people who already know me may be wondering: "Lori...You don't have children of your own. What makes you think you can write a book about parenting?"

Truth is...I've been thinking the same thing for many, many years now. But something in Extreme Ownership... changed my perspective on all of that, in part because the authors discuss that very feature of being a good leader; i.e. having a broader perspective. They write:
 As a leader, if you are down in the weeds planning the details with your guys, you will have the same perspective as them, which adds little value. But if you let them plan the details, it allows them to own their piece of the plan. And it allows you to stand back and see everything with a different perspective, which adds tremendous value. You can see the plan from a greater distance, a higher altitude, and you will see more. As a result, you will catch mistakes and discover aspects of the plan that need to be tightened up, which enables you to look like a tactical genius, just because you have a broader view. (Page 214)
I've always sensed that I had the life experience, the education, and the capacity for this "broader view" even without having had children of my own.  Furthermore, I am very cognizant of what I experienced as a child growing up with my mother, father, and siblings, and how those experiences shaped my life for better and worse. I know the challenges I have had to face that were made that much more difficult by not having had more functional and effective parenting. Honestly, I feel I've been playing "catch-up" all of my life because the first 20+ years did not really count for much, especially with respect to training and disciplining my pre-frontal brain during that critical period from infancy to 24 years of age.

And that last part is why parenting is So Critical in every person's life. It is difficult if not impossible to reach our full potential as human beings, with a capacity for emotional self-regulation, perspective taking (empathy), creative problem solving, etc., all results of mature pre-frontal brain functioning, without the adults around us guiding our pre-frontal brains through the developmental process. It Will Not Get There On Its Own!

While I've been more on my own, other people have been "in the trenches," struggling to raise their children. I suspect many of them have never read a book on parenting or childhood development because they just didn't have time to while working and raising their kids, and dealing with all of the other distractions that are part of modern life. I suspect few have had or thought to take the time to step back and try to get a broader perspective.

In contrast, my whole life I've felt more like I was on the outside looking in. I did not get married early and have children. As a consequence, I've had more time to read, to go to college, to continue reading, and taking on-line courses, etc., much of which has been focused on childhood development, leadership, and neuroscience. And now I see where all of that can be focused to help "the troops" by providing a broader perspective that might help motivate and guide them to carry out their "mission" as parents more responsibly and effectively.

Now all I have to do to "lead" that effort is to put together a "plan," rally my "teammates" and take what discipline I have managed to acquire post 24 years of age, and follow-through. It's exciting and daunting at the same time, but I feel better now about my "resource base" than I have in a long, long time.

So now, in the words of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, I simply have to "Get After It!"

* * * * *

Update: July 2017 - Stayed motivated for a while on this subject and then redirected. Got off on a bit of a tangent considering "God" as a leader, trying to get some feedback from religious leaders I know on "Commander's Intent" and no one got back to me on that with any kind of real answers! (Which is something to think about in and of itself!) Anyway, still an option for future writing. Will add, however, Jocko Willink has a new book out now The Way of the Warrior Kid: From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy SEAL Way which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed. I wish that I had had an "Uncle Jake" in my life when I was growing up. I might have more discipline around my writing now if I had! Will just have to continue to "muddle through" as best I can! Either way, in effect, it is a kind of "parenting" book, and I hope more adults read it, especially if they still need to do a little better parenting of their "inner child" well as their own children.