Thursday, January 15, 2015

Accelerate and Ensure Your High-Schooler's Success

--Henry Ford--
We all hope for success. We wish for it and most would do anything to help our children achieve it!

And when we talk about success, many of us quickly become quite philosophical and say “It’s not just money.” And of course, that’s right. Success surely includes family life, interpersonal relationships, good health - but be assured that a frustrating, un-fulfilling career WILL reverberate, permeate and diminish anyone’s life.

Let’s first recognize that career success is not based only on academic knowledge – but rather if and how the person USES the knowledge they possess. If the most skilled surgeon in the world doesn’t USE those skills, s/he is as average as the rest of us.

But wait - - average? What was Garrison Keilor’s line about Lake Wobegon – “where all the men are handsome and all the children are above average.”

Many times, average [or above or below average] is defined by an IQ test score. However, those tests measure and predict only ONE THING: school success. As soon as a student leaves school, IQ scores become (relatively) meaningless. We all know countless stories of people who couldn’t read well – or didn’t possess some other school skill – but who achieved great things in business or science or entertainment, etc. Henry Ford said he wanted to surround himself with people smarter than him – and he was clearly very successful.

There’s a fallacy in this nation that everyone’s created equal. Fact is, few of us really are. We each have differing strengths, weaknesses, talents, etc. We’ve certainly seen MUCH unexpected talent on TV shows in recent years. So – one key element is to discover what your child’s talent is or even their desired talent.

Young people especially, are sometimes cautioned about pursuing a goal for which they aren’t “talented.” My contention is this: let’s let him/her pursue that goal, encourage them to learn what’s needed to achieve it, make sure their dedicated or committed – and regardless of natural talent – let them go for it! Worst case scenario is that they’ll learn about themselves. BEST case? They may become the world’s best musician OR teacher OR engineer OR coach OR heart surgeon, etc., unless they were guided away by someone’s well-intentioned advice not to pursue that goal.

Fact is, Daniel Goleman in his seminal book EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE documented the fact that the greatest predictor and driver of success is how one handles defeats – it’s NOT intelligence, talent, family gene-pool OR level or source of education. The deciding trait is whether s/he handles defeat or failure in a non-emotional, learn-from-this-experience and try again manner.

The forthcoming blog articles will explore how to accelerate and assure your high-schooler’s success.

And of course, please feel free to comment on these thoughts.