It’s not that parents don’t believe in their kids…it’s that they know the world is hard. They know that the odds are long. And most of all, nobody wants harm or crushing disappointment to come to their children.
That’s why after spending most of their young lives encouraging them that they can be anything, we end up pulling back at the last minute when they get older. That’s why we discourage them from dropping out, from trying to make it as a musician, from quitting their job to start a company. We’re just worried.
Will Ferrell, one of the greatest comedic actors of all time, certainly challenged his parents in this way. You’re going to become a sketch comedian? What?!? Even his father, a working musician, had reservations about pursuing such an uncertain, unstable career. Thankfully, he caught himself before Will came to him for advice. Putting his very natural, understandable worries on the back burner, Roy Lee led with support and belief: “You know what? I think you have the skill, but it takes a lot of luck. If you don’t make it, don’t worry about it. You can just try something else.”
Roy Lee was communicating to Will, from his own hard-won experience, just how hard and unlikely success was in one of those much-dreamed of career fields. He was saying, you’re talented and I believe in you, but it’s going to be really hard, so hard that if it doesn’t work you have to understand that it’s just a reflection of the industry and not on you as a person.
That is an incredible gift to give your children. Permission to try…along with permission to fail. The signal that you’ll support them either way, that nothing changes based on the path they choose, the heights they reach or the marks they fall short of.