Are you a helicopter parent? A helicopter friend? A helicopter boss? What does that even mean? I got this idea this morning as I was by the pool, reminiscing. I remembered when I first learned how to swim... Watch the following video or keep reading for more.

Now, I don't know if this is old school or if it's something that you are familiar with, but I grew up in Quebec in the seventies, and there was this trend where, to teach kids how to swim, you would just throw them in the water, hope for the best, and they would manage. My dad decided to do this with us, to my mom's horror. "Oh, there’s no way you're doing this to my children." So, I was thinking: What is right, what is wrong?

As you may know, I work with a lot of a lot of corporations. Of course, the obvious work I do is teaching the people in charge to be better leaders and instill confidence in their team to increase performance. But also, when employees, leaders or managers have problems with their teenage daughter or their teenage son, for example, it does reflect on their behavior at work. We don't leave our problems in the parking lot. So the work that I do in corporations often also includes personal stuff like better communication with their children. And, believe it or not, the first rule with your employees or with your kids is: Yes, you need to throw them in the water.

Let's say you throw your child in the river and they're having a hard time swimming. There you are, standing beside them, on your yacht, floating. The yacht looks a lot more interesting and a lot more appealing than the little piece of wood that might show up in the river that the kid might just try to hang on to.

The same thing applies in life with people around you, with your friends. Sometimes, you might have a friend that has a problem, and you might be there with your yacht, so instead of them learning how to swim, you welcome them onto your yacht, and they will never learn how to swim. If you do it for them, it's a lot more appealing and it's a lot easier for them.

It's the same thing in corporations. I talked about helping leaders with their own kids, but I'm also talking about leaders with their own teams. Very often, if you have a two-hands-in approach, your staff will never learn how to swim. You have to let them make their mistakes, even if you think: "Well, there's no point in them making mistakes. It's going to cost the company so much money." Well... Yeah. But if you don't teach them, and if they don't learn, they will cost a lot more money in the end, because you will constantly have to do their job plus yours. A lot of managers are totally stressed out and have anxiety and too much work because they don't delegate enough. If you want your staff to learn how to swim, you have to let them learn how to swim and stop pulling them on your yacht every single time they have a problem.

As far as kids, a lot of research has been done on the prefrontal cortex, and you may know this already, but up until they turn 21, kids are not able to make fully rational decisions on their own because their prefrontal cortex is not yet fully developed. I have to say, though, that even close to my fifties, I still make a lot of mistakes, and the decisions that I make are not always ideal. LOL!

However, we do need a certain support. You still could be there on your yacht, watching them learn, and if they actually are in danger, then you jump in. But even then, instead of pulling them up on your yacht, you could swim along beside them and teach them how to maneuver with their hands, or hand them a buoy. Offer them tools in order to make it easier for them to learn without doing it for them.

Here are three things that I always say to kids, to friends, to whomever is in trouble. I always start with: "You are really resourceful. I trust you. You will figure this out. These are the key elements to tell anyone who is in trouble, because you want to empower them to make their own decision. You want to empower them to swim.

Make sure you're not a helicopter parent or a helicopter friend or a helicopter boss and keep teaching people around you how to swim!


Well, unfortunately, 50% of adults don't sleep well. A lot of people have problems falling asleep, or problems staying asleep.

Check out the all-new THINK Yourself® ASLEEP online course and learn more about:

  • How anxiety, weight gain and different problems could be caused by lack of sleep
  • The five stages of a sleep cycle
  • Sleep inertia, dreaming, snoozing and napping
  •  Techniques to sleep better
  •  Tools you can use before, during, and after sleep to feel well rested

Check out some of my previous blog posts...

It's Not Me, It's You

Are You Chasing Two Rabbits?

5 Learnings from a Cactus

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