Cautionary tales like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” seem to be less prevalent than in the past. Perhaps that is just my perception or my own implementation of life lessons to my kids. I remember exactly who told me this story and for what reason. It had the desired effect. In third grade, I would frequently “not feel well” in order to be sent down to the nurse’s office. Once my visits became frequent enough, the nurse recounted the story of the boy who cried wolf. My visits to her office became more legitimate.
Although the moral of the story is extremely clear, it might be worth a revisit because it could go further. In the end, the boy gets hurt because the townspeople don’t believe him. His dishonesty lead to pain because it short-circuited the system that was intended to protect him. While this moral has served me and countless others well, let’s go further.
The boy not only put himself in peril, he also robbed himself. He robbed himself of the experience of watching how the townspeople dealt with wolves. His deception was a short term diversion that took away his long term solution. If he had been diligent in his duties, he may have seen that scaring off the wolves was something that he could eventually do on his own. Developing this skill set over time could have saved his life in the future.
This revisited moral is possibly even more useful than the original now. The world is full of alarms, warning devices and security systems that keep us safe from “wolf attacks”. However with all of this “protection” are we going to be ready to act when things go sideways. If we are always providing our young people with a “safe space”, will they know how to handle themselves when real dangers show up? Hope is not a strategy. Hoping that the systems in place will be enough to cover all eventualities actually leaves those on the inside helpless. So don’t hope that nothing will happen, take steps to prepare for those possibilities.
Systems can be great and it is completely fine that we depend on them, until it’s not. Following the credo of the Boy Scouts, “be prepared!” You don’t know what is coming in your future but if you never consider what’s possible in either the positive or the negative, then you’re bound to be unprepared. We’ve all got exactly one objective in life: FCO (Figure Crap Out!). That’s it! You don’t deserve a problem free life. You can only create one. Not by eradicating all problems but by preparing for so many eventualities that you’re never caught by surprise!
Get ready people!