Have you heard about the Millennium Challenge, the $500 million war game the Pentagon conducted in 2001? It was an elaborate dress rehearsal for the Iraq War, with one side “playing” the U.S. and another team playing Iraq — and Iraq won. Playing on the “Iraqi team” was a retired Marine Corps General named Paul Van Riper, who was pretending to be Saddam Hussein.
Van Riper won by speeding up the game. The team playing the U.S. had all kinds of computer programs and decision-making systems, and experts on every conceivable problem. But when the war game started, Van Riper hit them with so many unexpected plays so quickly that he forced them out of that kind of conscious, deliberate decision-making mode. In other words, he took risks the American Armed Forces were not ready for. And it worked, much to our generals’ chagrin. The Department of Defense then adapted their real war strategy appropriately and saw overwhelming success when the battles were actually fought.
Taking risks is so much more than just winning war games. It’s an essential part of succeeding in life. But there is a chasm of difference between wisely or foolishly chancing something. Here are 10 ways to teach your kids good and bad risk taking.
Huddle up with your children tonight and ask them: “Do you think of yourself as a risk taker? Why or why not?”