With the showings of “Race to Nowhere,” and the publicity surrounding “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua, many people are excited by the debate about whether kids are being pressured too much to get perfect grades in school and to be perfect in extra-curricular activities. The assumption in these debates is that if we talk and reason enough, if we listen to the kids’ feelings and the parents fears and hopes we’ll figure out just the right balance. That can be a fun debate if someone else is providing the food and drinks, but I think these are the wrong considerations based on the wrong assumptions.
The important question is what can we find that will be so attractive to each individual child that they’ll drive themselves to learn and master themselves and the subject. That is; they’ll be so excited, they’ll become relentless in their pursuit of mastery in that subject. They’ll develop determination and self-discipline. And maybe they’ll continue with that subject all their lives or maybe they’ll move on to a different one.
In a sense, the pressure will come from the inside. Except that since there’s such joy in being possessed by our own drive and desire we don’t feel pressure; we feel relentless resolve and determination to struggle and struggle until we succeed.
We know the truth when we look at our employees and co-workers. We recognize the go-getters who are inspired from the inside. They don’t require intensive motivation to want to excel, although recognition and rewards are nice. That drive for excellence, that zest and passion for accomplishment is catching.
The corollary of course is what do we, as adults, have that draws us with the same passion and intensity? I hope there’s something and I hope it never ends.
There’s an archetypal story of Teddy Roosevelt (I believe) going to pay homage to Oliver Wendell Holmes, in his 90s, before the great man died. When he enters, he sees Holmes reading Plato. Knowing Holmes age and impending death, Roosevelt asks, “Why are you reading Plato?” Holmes answers, “To improve my mind.”
Another example of the opposite is a person who, at age 45, said she didn’t need to learn anything more in her life. She knew enough to make it the rest of the way. So she kept trudging in her rut the rest of the way. Where’s the excitement and joy in that?
Distinguish between what’s worthy of your life’s energy and what wastes it. Then do it with passion and intensity, with joy and wonder. What could be a better use of your time and energy?
If your children are the targets of bullies and school officials who aren’t protecting them, you need to take charge. With expert coaching and consulting, we can become strong and skilled enough to overcome principals and other officials who won’t do what’s right. We can plan tactics that are appropriate to us and to the situation.
“How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” and “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids,” have many examples of children and adults commanding themselves and then stopping bullies. For more personalized coaching call me at 877-8Bullies (877-828-5543).