You want your children to lead successful lives, right? I mean, we all do. As parents, we hope that our children’s lives outshine ours: that they will be happier, healthier, more financially secure, and all-around better human beings than we are. We sink our hearts and souls into raising our children in such a manner as to maximize the odds of that happening.
What if you could do more? What if the ways that successful adults think could be taught to your children?
An article in the Ziglar Vault, titled “7 Fearless Ways Successful People Think”, highlights seven ways successful people break away from the fear that holds everyone else hostage to less fulfilling, successful lives.
These seven game changers are:
- Move On
- Keep Their Power
- Accept Change
- Take Calculated Risks
- Applaud Others’ Successes
- Remain Resilient
- Earn Their Wins
So what do those mean for you and your kids?
Successful people don’t waste time wallowing in the frustrations and disappointments of the past. Instead, they learn what they can from those things, and then they turn their time and attention onto what they need to be doing right now in order to achieve whatever goals they’ve set for themselves.
When my kids seem like they’re struggling under the weight of frustration or disappointment, I encourage them to:
- Take a break
Sometimes, a change of activity or scenery is just what the doctor ordered.
- Change their self-talk
If I’m hearing, “I’ll never get this” or “I’m so stupid” then I know I’m hearing words that won’t help them accomplish what they’ve set out to accomplish. It’s time to get them to change the words they tell themselves. Sometimes, a simple reminder will do.
Other times, and more so for my youngest than my teenagers, I actually explicitly give them the words to replace what they’ve been saying to themselves: “It’s hard work, but I will get this eventually” or “I’m smart enough to get this. Maybe I need to use different resources or think about it another way.”
KEEP THEIR POWER
Successful adults hold fast to the old adage widely credited to Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” They aren’t controlled by their own emotions or swayed easily by the opinions of other people.
Let’s face it: kids can be mean. Even if your kids are homeschooled, somewhere along the way, they’re going to have to deal with bullies and “mean girls” too. When my kids seem like they’re overwhelmed by other people’s negative opinions of them or something they’re interested in, I encourage them to:
- Remember that they can’t control other people
Other people, including their siblings and parents, are going to do what they’re going to do. They’re going to say what they’re going to say. What they say or do is usually much more a reflection of who they are and how they feel about life right then than of anything else.
- Remember that they can control themselves
This is a big one in my house. Like I tell my kids, I can’t control what you do but I can control how I respond to what you do. Those aren’t just words in my house.
If my kids are fighting, then there are two discussions that need to happen.
We’ll need to deal with the initial insult, and we’ll deal with the subsequent responses that either fanned the flames or de-escalated the situation. It usually takes the form of a debrief, with me or their father asking what they each individually could have done to change the course of their negative interaction. It gets them thinking.
Successful people recognize that change is inevitable. Sometimes it’s for the better. Sometimes, the worse. Oftentimes, it’s neutral. But inescapable. Successful people power through their fear and embrace change.
Change is easier for some kids than others. When my kids seem anxious about change, I encourage them to:
- Think about the worst possible scenario. Usually, when you think about the worst possible outcome rationally, it isn’t anywhere near as bad as what your imagination can whip up. It usually helps my kids to have them slay the nightmare that their imaginations have created and replace it with a more likely result. The worst possible result is that your friends will laugh? Okay. Can you live with that? Can you laugh with them? The worst possible result is that you’ll fail? Okay. What happens if you fail? You feel badly about yourself? Well, did you do the best you could? Can you learn from a temporary defeat? Is it the end of the world? My kids oftentimes end up thinking this line of questioning gets pretty absurd…and that’s the point!
- I don’t just have my kids stop with the worst possible outcome. We also discuss the most likely and the best possible outcomes, too! With visions of those in mind, they’re better able to accept the coming change.
TAKE CALCULATED RISKS
Successful adults know that huge rewards – personally, professionally, financially, spiritually, whatever – are frequently on the other side of a big risk. They’re not reckless. They carefully weigh the pros and cons before making a decision, but they don’t let their fear run the show.
I don’t want my kids to ever allow fear to rule their lives, but I also don’t want them taking stupid, careless risks, either. Long before they reach adulthood and move out on their own, I want my kids to have had lots of practice making decisions about things that actually matter while their father and I are around to guide them or help them deal with the consequences of their decisions. That, actually, is a large part of the reason we have chosen self-directed homeschooling.
When my kids are faced with a weighty decision to make, I encourage them to:
- Think about who they are right now, who they want to be next, and identify whether or not Calculated Risk X is in alignment with who they are right now and if it moves them closer to who they want to be next or further away. Sometimes, that’s enough and the answer is obvious.
- Measure the opportunity cost. You cannot do all things all the time and do them all well. I have drilled that into my kids’ heads. Choices must be made. Evaluate the trade-offs. Go back to the steps in Change.
APPLAUD OTHERS’ SUCCESSES
Successful adults don’t view success as a finite thing. One person’s success doesn’t take away the opportunity for another person to be successful. Success also cannot live alongside an envious, covetous spirit; they’re incapable.
There aren’t really any steps that I go through to encourage my kids to applaud the successes of others. That’s just what we do in this family. When Jarrod wins a prestigious award at Sea Cadets, we all celebrate. When Erica scores highly enough to qualify for the national archery competition, we all celebrate. When Jillian demonstrates a natural affinity for math and numbers, we’re all proud of what she can do. There’s no room for petty jealousy.
Successful people bounce back from tragedy, defeat, and failure. They don’t allow what happened to them to define them. If their goal is worthwhile, they stay the course, learning the lessons that defeat or failure teach along the way.
When my kids seem like tragedy, defeat, or failure may be threatening to crush them, I encourage them to:
- Understand and accept that these things are part of life, but they aren’t permanent. Tremendous joy, triumphant victories, and wild successes would actually be pretty hollow if that’s all there ever was. They’d go from tremendous, triumphant, and wild to mundane.
- Remember that they aren’t anybody’s victim! The real failures are the people who either never try to begin with or stop working the solutions when the obstacles appear. Steel that backbone. Take charge of what they’re telling themselves, because self-talk is powerful stuff. Get angry if they need an extra boost of that “I’ll show you” spirit, and get moving!
EARN THEIR WINS
Successful people make stuff happen. They roll up their sleeves and dive into the action. They don’t wait for someone else’s coattails to ride in on. They don’t expect hand-outs or prizes for showing up. They work hard and earn what’s theirs.
When my kids are working hard toward achieving a goal, I encourage them by:
- Getting out of their way. This is yet another reason why we have chosen self-directed homeschooling. They “own” everything they’re doing. Because what they’re doing has meaning to them, they don’t need any external motivation.
- Being available if they need me. I don’t hand my kids their wins. They chase their dreams, and I am here as a resource provider, a guide, a mentor, a facilitator. I make sure that what I do with them when they’ve hit an obstacle and need help doesn’t diminish or overshadow their own investment in the end game.
Teaching your kids to think the same way that successful adults think is a process. It must be modeled. It must be repeated, over and over, across different settings and different circumstances. It takes diligence, but it’s worth it.