Q: “What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: “Something that hasn’t been invented yet.

Most of us were brought up to study hard, get good grades, choose a “practical” college major, and strive for a “good job.” These were the rules that shaped our path, preparing us to be passengers on a large ocean liner that promised a smooth voyage. However, today, we find ourselves in a world where that ocean liner turned out to be the Titanic, and we need to keep ourselves afloat on a small life raft if we want to survive.

Here are some tips to help your child not only survive but thrive and grow in this chaotic world:

1. Encourage Strengths Over Limitations

From the first day of kindergarten, encourage your child to build on strengths rather than focus on limitations. Do they spend hours studying models of cars from the last twenty years? Maybe they’ll become an auto mechanic—or perhaps they’ll parlay that ability to classify detailed information into a career as a biologist or pharmacist.

In a world that values specialization, these unique strengths can be turned into valuable assets. Embracing what makes your child unique can lead to unexpected and rewarding career paths.

2. Follow Passions, Not Just Job Prospects

Encourage your child to choose a field of study based on their natural abilities and passions, rather than solely considering “what will get me a job.” Look at successful figures like Claudia Kennedy, the US Army’s first female three-star General, who majored in philosophy. She credits her philosophical background for preparing her to become a top-level intelligence officer.

Similarly, Carly Fiorino, the famed CEO of Hewlett-Packard, studied medieval history, and Michael Lewis, a renowned financial writer and best-selling author of Liar’s Poker was an art history major. Their success demonstrates that pursuing one’s passions can lead to fulfilling careers.

3. Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity

Assure your children that few mistakes are fatal. Did your child fail a course or face rejection from a first-choice college? These setbacks are not the end of the road. In fact, they can be valuable lessons in resilience and determination.

Take the story of Yolanda Griffith, a WNBA basketball star, who dropped out of a premier program due to pregnancy. She returned to a lower-ranked college program with her baby in tow and went on to play for the Sacramento Monarchs. Success often arises from our ability to bounce back from failures and setbacks.

Remember one of our favourite sayings: “It’s OK to just try stuff. ”

4. Celebrate Success in All Areas of Life

Encourage your child to experience success in any area of their life. Did they make the honor roll, get selected for a play, join a club, or make it onto an athletic team? These achievements build confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

Even seemingly unrelated successes can have a positive impact. For instance, a shy twelve-year-old may suddenly blossom when they win the lead in a school play. This improved self-esteem can translate into better grades and new friendships with high-achieving peers. Success breeds success, and having a taste of it can be a powerful motivator throughout life.

Tip: Change the framing of achievement. By switching back and forth between “I’m so proud of you!” to “you must be so proud of yourself!” you give your child the tools to feel good about themselves, rather than rely exclusively on outside feedback for validation. Give it a try!

5. Degrees Don’t Guarantee Success

Getting into a top university—or any university—will not guarantee success. While education is essential, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Many Ivy League graduates have faced unemployment, bankruptcy, and even homelessness, while high school dropouts have flourished through their own initiative.

In today’s rapidly changing world, career-changers who embrace an attitude of “I can handle anything” are the ones who come out on top. They’re the individuals who, when thrown into the ocean, improvise a set of oars and maintain their spirits until they figure out their next move. Those who cling to entitlement and a belief that they were “set for life” often struggle to adapt.

Embrace Change and Opportunity

As parents and mentors, let’s encourage our children to embrace their uniqueness, follow their passions, learn from failures, celebrate success in all its forms, and adapt to the evolving landscape of opportunities. In doing so, we equip them not only to survive but to thrive and contribute meaningfully to this chaotic world.

 

Now, we’d love to hear from you!

aHow do you encourage your children to thrive in today’s world? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.


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