Saturday morning I found myself home with two kids feeling under the weather.  My wife and eldest daughter were out for the morning and, while ‘the littles’ slept, I was catching up on some work.

Shortly after starting on a small project, my smart, creative, middle child (and second daughter) came and snuggled into bed with me.  She was immediately engaged with my work in a way that I have never seen.  I had just added a publication to my LinkedIn profile and was creating a way for people to request and download the paper on our website. This process included creating a mailing list, a form to sign up for the mailing list, and connecting it all together to deliver the paper automatically.

At each step, I explained to her what I was doing and asked what she thought about colors and pictures.  Before I knew it, she was telling me with authority exactly what people wanted and what they would like and why I needed a button with the colors she said.  When asked how she knew, she was nonchalant yet very confident.

“I just know.”

I didn’t make a big deal about any of it, but WOW.  It was such a great moment.

As for her suggestions?  Well, they are about what you would expect from a 9 year old who still loves mismatching socks.  But…that doesn’t make them wrong.  Would her suggestions work?  Maybe.  In fact, the more I think about it, I want to run an experiment.  I am going to design a “grown up” page and do an A-B Split Test with her “part-time fashionista web consultant, full-time awesome kid” page and see what happens.

This little experience got me thinking about some big ideas.

First, my daughter doesn’t know about Noel Burch’s ‘Conscious Competence’ learning model.  In fact, she may have very little competence with design.  It might be “wrong,” but she is completely confident and completely happy to share her ideas.  It might very well be true that ignorance is bliss, but consider this.  How many times have you been certain you know the answer and been wrong?  Once?  Twice?  Surely more than that?  Sometimes, we need to risk what we know for something else.  Something that might be better.  Something that feels unsafe.  Something that looks…wrong.

Now, the astute critic would quick to point out that my daughter is free to make such fleeting statements because her well-being is not contingent upon her making proven recommendations.  As a child, she is free to throw out opinions all day long and they don’t have to count.

Why?  Because she’s a kid?  Because…that’s what we were told when we were kids?

Do you stick your neck out?  Do you take chances?  I hope so.  If you don’t, why not?

Just remember, we don’t have to live like every decision is going to make or break us (because not all will).  It’s okay to look silly sometimes.  Sometimes ‘off the wall’ is exactly what’s needed.

And we can have confidence, but we don’t have to be right.