My five year old is 15 feet up in the air and trembling as he holds on for dear life. “Mommy, I can’t do it?!” I’m at the base coaching him through his panic, “You CAN do it honey?! It’s just ONE step. Deep breath. Please try?” I can see the fear in his eyes as he takes a second. This is THE moment. I’m on pins and needles. Will he chose a shot at victory or accept defeat?
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath as he summons his courage. An instant later those tears of terror have turned to tears of joy as he’s grinning ear to ear. Victory is his, he made the step!
“You did it!!! You beat your record! Way to go honey!” I’m basking in my proud mama moment, but he’s basking in an even greater one. He’s just realized he has far more potential than he ever dreamed.
The beauty of that moment wasn’t about rock climbing skills, it was about GRIT. We all have a voice in our head that tells us to move forward when we think we can’t, but not everyone listens. Those who do are rewarded greatly for they have discovered the secret ingredient to success. Those who don’t find themselves lost in the shuffle of mediocre wondering what they missed. Without grit, all the intelligence and resources in the world don’t matter.
Grit is the glue that holds us to our goals, dreams, and purpose.
If grit is a success factor for kids as studies point out, what can we do to encourage that personality trait in our kids? For starters, we need to get past the mantra of “do your best.” While it has good intentions, it serves as a free pass to settle for “good enough.” Instead of “do your best”, why not accept the mantra of “challenge yourself”?
After all, what’s the worst that can happen? As in the case with my son’s rock climbing, worst case is that he confirmed his suspicion. He couldn’t do it. Hardly life ending and he still would have felt good about himself for trying.
Now what is the BEST that could happen? He achieves what he once considered impossible and a door of possibility is opened wide. A door he’s ready to walk through with his head held high.
Call me crazy, but I think the rewards outweigh the risks here. If we never push our kids to achieve their highest potential, how can we expect them to truly step into their greatness?
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
– Robert F. Kennedy