I know that I spend a great deal of time discussing my secrets to success. However, most of my lessons were learned as an adult and as a result of much trial and error. In this post, I want to share another theory of how we can help our children experience success without some of the heartache that many of us have experienced.
To begin, we must redefine their definition of success. As children, many of us were told that to be successful we had to go to college and become a doctor, lawyer, teacher or some other type of professional. We were told that we should buy a house and a car and then have a family. As most of us have come to realize, achieving those things is not the true measure of success or happiness.
I am working with the South Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC) to go into the local schools and speak with 4th graders about alternative career options. Interestingly, many of the children in the classroom that I recently spoke to were interested in forestry. I am sure that there are people who will tell them they should choose something else but if they can relate this career option to finishing school, getting a job and providing for their family; I would consider it a success.
I know that many people in my network are not doctors, lawyers or teachers and they are successful as well as happy because they are living their passion and/or working to provide for themselves and their families. Many of them are entrepreneurs, writers, political activists and social servants. I am sure some of them started on the traditional career path but eventually figured out that it wasn’t for them. Imagine figuring that out sooner in life rather than later. There are some people in the 30s and 40s that are just figuring out what they really want to do and not just working for a paycheck.
I always thought that it was weird for us to limit the scope of our children’s ambitions to so few careers when there are thousands of options for them to choose from. I like to talk to young people about what they enjoy and then help them to find a career in that industry. For example, I knew this little boy that wanted to become a professional basketball player. Based on genetics (he was only about 5 feet, 5 inches), I knew this would not be a reality for him. Instead of telling him to give it up, I talked to him about alternatives to becoming the basketball player and he set his sights on becoming a sports agent.
To help our children become successful, we need to help them to see that the world is filled with options and they can choose any one of them. Instead of funneling them into the tried and true careers, let’s create a generation of workers doing something that will be meaningful to them personally while they work to provide for themselves and their family.