The character, skills, and inclinations developed in
childhood are usually crucial to the development of entrepreneurial
personalities later on.
So we ought to be worried that children today are being
brought up in a way that seems designed to make them dependent pleasure-seeking
drones rather than the self-reliant go-getters who are essential to future
It has become commonplace to suggest that modern parents and
schools protect children from any sort of risk to the point where it is as if
the children are “wrapped in cotton wool”.
This is a poor preparation for real life –especially
One possible antidote in Commonwealth
countries is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
scheme, which encourages young people to be active and adventurous.
For adventure to be adventure, there must be an element of
risk, and for risk to be risk, there has to be the possibility of loss.
Those of us who protest against today’s risk-averse culture
must accept that possibility.
Needless to say, Prince Edward, one of the Duke’s sons, was
abused by the “health and safety” lobby for having the honesty to admit that the risk of
death attracts young people to adventure. Yet he was right – so long as we note
there is a difference between risk and likelihood, and that there is no excuse
for increasing risk unnecessarily by neglecting sensible safety precautions.
The lack of physically dangerous play may be the biggest
difference between today’s children and those of us whose childhoods seem to
have been much happier – but it is not the only difference.
When we were in a more sedate mode, instead of spending
hours playing computer games which offer the adrenaline rush of cheap thrills
and instant gratification, we would spend hours making models and the like.
The product of those hours was not the completed models – to
be honest, most of us were not much good at them – but the lessons in
patience, adaptability, taking a pride in your work, elementary technical
skills, and, possibly most important of all, the postponement of gratification
were a valuable preparation for a career in business.