12 Jun The Correlation Between Perseverance and Success
Parents often ask me how they can help their children be successful. This seems like a difficult question on the surface; children have so many different talents and skills, there are a million different ideas on what success is, and there are ten times that many different types of children who all learn and live differently. It would seem an impossible question to answer, but the truth is there is one universal concept that leads everyone to be successful, regardless of age or opportunity. One singular character trait that leads those who possess it toward their goals; it is simply perseverance.
Seeing a goal through to it’s completion is a simple concept. Almost as if it were a straight line, like a train track that one just follows along toward the destination. At the beginning they think, ‘I start on a path, I work for the goal, I achieve the goal’. It’s never that simple though. People have a tendency to allow their feelings to drive the train which can cause the entire plan to go off track.
But my child has lost interest…
This is the most common reason parents worry about their children and their future success. It can be confusing for a parent because often it seems their child was on track yesterday and suddenly they are protesting, parents often don’t see it coming.
When a parent explains this to me, what they are really saying is, ‘My child doesn’t feel like doing this anymore’. There it is, the feelings argument. Time and time again I have watched parents allow their children to allow feelings to dictate actions. Feelings are the enemy of success because feelings say we should pay more attention to what we want than what we know to be right. Feelings also change, often. Especially in the childhood and teenage years. Allowing feelings to decide a course of action can lead to confusion and despair; children who are allowed to use feelings as a valid decision making vehicle often feel like they have wasted so much effort and time toward an outdated goal. If feelings are allowed to dictate how a child proceeds toward success they will grow up learning that whenever they feel like giving up they are justified.
So what is a parent to do?
Children are tiny humans, they are going to feel ups and downs and those feelings are going to make staying on track difficult, but we need to keep in mind that when we allow the feeling to control the action, we are slaves to a whim. Learning to work though feelings and understand how to overcome a desire to give up is paramount in success because perseverance isn’t the absence of feelings, it is the forward action in spite of it.
*Remind your child that the goal was once very important to them, and that it will be again. Help them to understand what a ‘valley’ is and how to work through the low points so that they can get to the goal, even if it is not their priority at the moment.
*Teach your child that everyone, even adults, sometimes feel like giving up. If your child knows that this is a normal thing to go through they will be able to recognize that the successful people in their lives have had to overcome the same types of feelings that they have. It shows them that it can be done.
*Love your child enough to let them express their feelings. Validate them instead of the feelings but always remind them that feelings come second in decision making.
*Lead by example. Children learn more from what they see you do than what you actually tell them. In short, they hold us accountable. If you’ve started a diet, a budget, a new workout plan, or begun on any other type of self improvement path, stick with it (even when you don’t feel like it). Your example does more than help you, it shows your child what it looks like to work through a valley. You will help your child more than you’ll ever know, and you’ll find strength in the process for yourself too.
*Reach out for help. If there is someone who has achieved the success that your child is working toward, ask them to talk to your child about it. Sometimes a trusted outsider can speak volumes into your child’s life.
*Be the parent because ultimately you get to make the final decision. I have never once met an adult that said they are glad their parent allowed them to give up. At the end of the day children really don’t have the type of life experience to make long term decisions; they need the guidance of a parent to help them (and sometimes make them) chose the right path. It isn’t an easy job, and your child might not be happy that you are making them do something they have lost interest in, but in the long run they will learn much more about themselves and success than if you let them quit.
Once your child has achieved that long awaited goal, a tremendous amount of pride will surface in them and it will forever shape how they view themselves; it will be this pride that will help them continue to make the kinds of decisions in life that will continue a cycle of success in their future.
In truth, perseverance is the opposite of our very normal human emotions. It forces us to be stronger than our feelings, and in the end it is essentially what leads us to success.
~Sensei Jen Davenport