If you are a parent worth your salt then this question of success is constantly on your mind. It’s difficult to answer though so don’t feel judged if you’re struggling with it.
Here’s the breakdown of the challenge. We don’t know what they will want to be. We know the usual path of school doesn’t work. Almost everyone is educated but very few adults see themselves as successful. Following the norm doesn’t cut it. To top it all off, we have no idea what sort of world we are preparing them for. Look at the amount of change in the last twenty years. The pace of change is accelerating so we are really just guessing when we think about what our kids may face.
The solution needs to be versatile. Teach them personal skills like communication, nutrition, how to build and change habits, etc. Remember that even though we might want them to grow up to be a doctor, we don’t really know what the world we are preparing them for will look like.
The recipe for success in uncertain times (and all times are uncertain):
Awareness under pressure
Success from Resilience. Challenge is a certainty in good times and bad. Find activities for your kids where the will be challenged consistently. Focus on the important lesson being that they choose to face the challenge and give it their all. Praise meeting the challenge every time, win or lose.
Success from Awareness under pressure. When humans are under pressure they resort to their stress response. This means we react our way through a situation. This usually leads to straining ahead on a difficult path. We want our kids to have an ingrained habit of calming their reactions and looking for he best action they can see to improve their situation. This is a response to prime your kids with every time they are struggling. “Take a breath. Take a step back and look at the problem. What is a new solution to try?”
Success from Clear Vision. This is an extension of the human tendency to react. Many people go through the motions of their days without any decided direction. Teach your kids to intentionally choose how they are going to live their days. A good series of questions to ask your kids every morning is, “What is the most important thing you want to do today? Do you expect any challenges? How will you respond to those challenges?” Ask follow up questions to encourage them to be vivid in their answers. Remember, we only get what we aim for.
Success from Confident Action. Confidence is ease. Whether you are striding up to someone and shaking their hand, or tackling an opponent, you want to be at ease. Teach your kids to relax when they feel nervous by taking deep breaths, loosening up their bodies and noticing details about the present.
These primary human skills will serve your kids well whether they want to lead a symphony or build a rocket. They also give them a better quality of life and the tools to deal with the stress that drives so many adults.
Best of luck to you and your family.