Archive for Cautionary Tale

Cautionary Tales Protect From Danger

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In every field of human endeavor there are real dangers, physical, emotional, and moral. It is better to learn about those specific dangers early on to avoid experiencing the painful consequences of wrong decisions. Cautionary Tales are a good way for your child to hear and assimilate the consequences of such dangers.

An excellent source for Cautionary Tales can be found in the biographies of famous talented people that are in your child’s field of interest. Another excellent source is from older and very experienced talented individuals who can scare you with stories of colleagues who lost an arm to a saw after failing to get enough sleep or of a friend who lost a lifetime of savings because they signed a contract without first getting advice. It can also be hearing about social boundaries that were not respected, such as about the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who even though was immensely successful in his talent, had completely failed morally with his wife and children. His friends testified to his tragic failings, even while acknowledging his immense architectural talent.

Another place for your son or daughter to hear about cautionary tales is in the online forums or meetups where people of a similar talent congregate. Recently, my son who has an interest in bladesmithing, heard of a tragic ending to someone who disregarded the direction of the wheel turning during the final phase of buffing a blade. The knife then got accidentally caught in the high-velocity upward motion of the wheel and fatally impaled the worker. Result of taking shortcuts: immediate death. Having heard that, my son is now always making sure the wheel is working in the right direction. The cautionary tale served its purpose.

Scare them straight.



Updated May 2014

Does Mother Always Know Best?

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Guest Post by Levi Heiple:

Your friends and family do not always know what’s best for you.

Before I went to college, all my family thought that I should be a music teacher. I was on the church worship team. I enjoyed music. I had a good knack for it (at least relative to my friends and family’s abilities).

However, after going through an intense music program for a couple of years, I realized that these “gifts” were not so extraordinary. I was consistently the “slow” one in my percussion studio. I never made any auditioned ensembles.

I spent more time practicing than most of the others, but I still just didn’t have the “chops” to keep up.

I should of realized that having a good knack for playing along with a band or picking up on some guitar strumming patterns is really not enough to warrant a lifelong pursuit of that skill.

There are millions of people who have a “good knack” for a lot of different things. That’s not the same as being prepared for success.

In retrospect, I should of realized that my greatest ability was in optimizing systems and breaking down complex information. Oddly, nobody noticed this ability. Nor was I told that I could make a living with these skills.

Nobody I knew personally was an entrepreneur or had any knowledge about the technical communication field.

Family and friends have a limited perspective of the world, namely the world that is their work and their leisure.

The real insight that family and friends can bring is what someone is not good at. I failed biology class in high school. If I told my parents I wanted to be a biologist, they would have laughed at me.

There are many paths to success. There are universal ways to fail. Steer your child clear of failure, but don’t let your limited perspective of the world dictate the supposed path of success. The world is too complex and changes far too rapidly for anyone to know the right path for someone else’s success.

About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at



Updated: May 2014