FEARLESS QUOTE: “Testing your comfort zone is scary. Provide children with all the support you can, so they feel comfortable pushing their boundaries and learning from any mistakes along the way.”
NAT GEO FAMILY: Why is it good for kids to be fearless?
JACK RANDALL: Being fearless means pushing the limits of your personal comfort zone. As kids push that comfort zone further and further, they’re increasing their awareness of the world around them. They’re learning from their mistakes, growing in confidence, opening up more possibilities, and making what might have once seemed impossible, possible. As they grow into adults, this early fearless attitude will set them up for the many hurdles that they’ll encounter in later life.
NAT GEO FAMILY: Describe yourself as a fearless kid.
RANDALL: Many people’s biggest fear is failure. But for me I’ve always been fearless in following my dreams. I remember watching TV as a kid and seeing a field biologist walk barefoot through the swamps of Venezuela catching anacondas. My plan from that day was to do exactly what he was doing when I grew up. But I lived in England, and there were no anacondas to catch! I kept my dream to myself because I feared people would laugh at me. Then one day I decided to tell my friends and my mom. And instead of laughing at me, they supported me. My mom even allowed me to have a pet snake.
If I hadn’t shared my dream to work with animals, I wouldn’t have met my early mentor, Steve Irwin. This led me to travel to the other side of the world at just 14 years old to work as an apprentice at his zoo, where I learned about the behavior of snakes and reptiles. Once I understood them, I could then learn how to handle these animals. I became fearless around the animals I understood. Animals are incredibly instinctive and can sense fear, particularly snakes. If you’re calm, they will be too … though sometimes that doesn’t go quite as planned!
Two years ago I found myself in the Venezuelan swamps catching anacondas with the same field biologist I was watching on TV all those years ago. It took 20 years, but my ultimate dream came true!
NAT GEO FAMILY: What advice would you give parents to raise a fearless kid?
RANDALL: Testing your comfort zone is scary. I think it’s important to provide children with all the support you can, so they feel comfortable pushing their boundaries and learning from any mistakes along the way.
I also think it’s important not to push your own fears onto kids. Allow them to take their own journey and find out what tests them. Whatever it is that they fear, let them know that as they learn and understand more about what they’re afraid of, they’ll soon become less fearful and be able to take big leaps forward.