Last week I attended the Principal TODAY kickoff breakfast. Principal TODAY is where business/community leaders spend a full day at a Miami Dade County school helping to run the school. Afterwards, I was approached by a teacher who asked for my opinion to his statement, “I am having a real problem reconciling the meaning of success as it relates to how and what we teach our kids.”
Here is my response. It’s time that kids develop what success means to them and not always having to live up to someone else’s standards.
Right now, our children have a very challenging job – that of being a good student and a great kid. The best way to empower them is to teach them how to empower themselves.
They must see that a clear definition of success needs to be in line with their own values, interests and abilities. Success can no longer be defined by being an extrovert, participating in the chill sports and clubs, GPA rankings, PSAT, SAT and ACT scores and the status of colleges to which they are accepted.
Success comes in all shapes and sizes; in all colors and backgrounds. However, what all students possess but most don’t know yet is that they all have leadership skills. That’s right – even the introverts, wallflowers, and shy ones all possess that “breakout gene.” They just need to find it.
Students must define the meaning of success in their own life. And this means parents helping to prepare them for life rather than protecting them from it. Helping kids to figure out their own path without burning out or losing the joy of learning.
This gives them a more balanced idea of success, which puts character ahead of competition and social status, while striving for academic success and developing a sense of purpose, well being and connection in the world around them. Students need to feel an authentic – rather than superficial – feeling of success.
It is crucial – even in the early years – to avoid the exhausted, always-driven and emotionally impaired cycle that leads kids to believe they are only as good as their last performance.
Students need to develop the resilience, resourcefulness, and determination necessary for success while allowing them to navigate the trials of life. But what we all must give them are the tools to figure things out on their own.
As much as we try to “help” our kids, they will not travel down the path of success until they motivate themselves. So many of us validate our parenting and our own status through our kids achievements and yes, successes, which works for no one.
We simply cannot live vicariously through our kids. However, once our kids realize, acknowledge, and understand they already have valuable assets, they then possess the greatest self-motivating factor of all – creating their own personal identity.
We know that today’s students just may be part of the most capable, creative, knowledgeable, multi-tasking and opportunity-filled generation yet. We need to prepare kids today for the jobs of tomorrow that haven’t even been created yet. To do this, we must equip them with the right skill sets to be successful in school, work and life. There is much more to learning than just academics.
Students need to discover how confidence, determination, sense of pride, and peace of mind is as important as making the Honor Roll, Dean’s List, winning scholastic competitions, and being in the top one percent of their class, if not more so. And it’s no surprise how embracing these attributes in turn make for great results in the classroom and throughout life.
This column is by Ritchie Lucas, Founder of The Student Success Project and Think Factory Marketing. He can be reached at 305-788-4105 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and You Tube as The Student Success Project.