Wednesday, October 21, 2015

“Oh, the places you’ll go…” – Where is Your Student Headed?

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”  ― Dr. Seuss

When your children were born, you probably had wondrous visions of what their beautiful life would be like.  By high school, they’ve come a long way and hopefully are on a good path toward happiness and success. But at what are they pointed?  Every great achievement begins with a vision – much as you probably had when your children were born.  But what vision do your kids have – for their future?  With our students (at Launch-Your-Life), we start developing a Master Dream List – everything they ever hope to achieve, experience, possess or become. We have found that almost all of our students have ignited their own academic focus after their dreams have been identified and then narrowed – to 1 or 2 or 3.
What does this mean for you?  Some younger people aren’t very skilled or practiced at dreaming.  Dreams are pretty close to hope – and hope is all we have, most days!  Depending on their age and ‘maturity’ – they may not do well at first.  But recent research on the teenage brain indicates that with repeated efforts in this area, you can almost speed up maturation.

  • Begin asking them now.  At first, they may be suspicious.  That’s OK – it’s a standard part of the parent-child tug-of-war. 
  • But keep asking, as days and weeks go on.

A couple key thoughts:
  • Almost whatever they say, respond with “that’s good!” –
  • or “that sounds great” or “sounds like fun”
  • Any negative or challenging comment has the potential to shut them down. These are only dreams – so no worries at this stage. 
You may also want to follow up with
  • “Why is that important to you?” –
  • Or “what is it about that dream the really excites you?” – or similar.  
And again, as time goes on, ask them how that dream is coming in their thinking – and maybe ask – “what do you think you’ll need to do to get there?” – or similar questions.  And don’t forget – be supportive, no matter what.  Because - there’s another side benefit: by beginning to dream – and possibly then find out they couldn’t get there, that ‘failure’ provides them the strengthening benefit of rebounding from defeat or a wrong decision.  And lest you think that’s cruel – recent research and evidence is the opposite: professors and coaches are finding that very intelligent and highly skilled young people are virtually paralyzed by defeats and failures. So when they fail, or reject the dream – make it a teaching moment: query, discuss, draw conclusions – for (their) next time.   
Good luck!