New continuum to ponder: carpentry – gardening
– NPR (Hidden Brain) ran an interview with Psychologist Alison Gopnik on her book “The Gardener and the Carpenter.” By her research, we can look at two approaches to parenting (and learning, and development, and life… it goes WAY beyond that simple objective): carpenters measure and build things in a controlled environment, gardener’s plant and then constantly adapt to changes in a random environment.
– So when we think about parenting, are we aiming for successful kids or well-adjusted ones? Do we construct every task, setting, in goal with as much precision on controlling the outcome as we can? Or do we focus on the basics of seed planting, watering, and adapting what our future salad looks like when the rabbit eats all of our carrots?
– Let’s be realistic, unless you’re the ultimate Tiger / Helicopter (or whatever the latest adjective is) parent, you’re striking some form of balance. You’re also not demanding that they’ll be successful AND well-adjusted (you would NEVER do that). For a real world example that doesn’t require a lifetime of therapy, check out the a16z conversation with NASDAQ CEO Adena Friedman.
– If you think about it, NASDAQ sits in the middle of the continuum with deep domain expertise on both sides. On the carpentry end, you have a highly organized and constructed exchange. The markets fluctuate, but the exchange has to WORK. On the gardening end, you have the entire process of listing securities (IPO, etc.) and the communication strategies for being successful on the exchange itself. You can plant the seed, but you have to water it too.
– Friedman’s job is therefore to run the gardening business so that new companies join the exchange, all while maintaining the carpentry business that allows for the exchange to operate better than other available options (ahem, like staying private, which is increasingly easy to do).
– Finding the balance is tricky, but you only get there if you acknowledge the two extremes and structure your approach around how much control you have or don’t have on the outcomes.
– Take your extremes from Gopnik, but find a very aware balance from Friedman.