Children….got to love ’em

There was a fascinating story in Saturday’s “Wall Street Journal,” adapted from the book “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character,” by Paul Tough. It posits that cognitive skill is not the key to success, but personality traits…persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence. In other words, character.

It’s o.k. to let them walk to and from school. Statistics tell us this. The odds of your child being stolen from the schoolyard are essentially nil, unless you’re in a custody dispute with your ex.

Now if the educational institution is miles away, by all means, give your kid a ride. But if not, maybe you should stop holding his or her hand; maybe you should let your kid experience a bit of risk. Since your goal is to have them grow up and be self-sufficient, not only pay the bills and put a roof over their head, but get along when you’re gone.

But parents are not listening. They believe if they don’t hold their kids’ hands, do their homework, pave the way, their children will be left behind.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

I experience persistence every day. People are looking for a ride to the top that we cannot give them, even if we want to. But they lack the remaining personality traits. The e-mails and conversations are always the same, “This is who I am, this is what I’ve done, promote me!” And when I don’t, they double down… “I’ve e-mailed you before, here’s my YouTube clip, it’s getting a lot of traction.” And you click through and it’s got 27 views, or even 27,000… That’s far from a million. Yup, you haven’t gone viral until you’re in seven or eight digits.

These people are one-dimensional, they want success, but there’s no thinking involved.

Curiosity… That’s an interesting concept. Can you analyze why the Kindle Fire will have a hard time competing with the iPad, or do you just look at price, believe what you read in the newspaper? Someone with knee-jerk intelligence will point to the gross sales. Someone who’s curious will come to a conclusion after blending in all the elements.

No one likes those who are inconsiderate. That’s what so many of the people wanting to make it in any industry are today, inconsiderate. And they don’t do well with rejection and frustration. They freak.

So if you think lining up trophies, diplomas from the best schools and your parents’ network of friends, is the key to success, you’re sorely mistaken.

It all comes down to you.

Seems like the people we hate are inconsiderate. That’s how they got their jobs.

I can easily address musicians and the rock stars topping the chart. Spend a few minutes with them and you’ll be mesmerized. Sure, their music is good, but they’ve got a way of drawing you to them, of getting you to do their work for them. These are the keys to success, much more than practicing.

In other words, rehearse for 10,000 hours and you probably won’t make it.

Have a three-dimensional life, know how to negotiate personal relationships, and you might.

That’s why so few of the music industry titans have college degrees. They couldn’t play the game. They thought it was stupid. Sure, you need a law degree to practice law and a medical degree to practice medicine, but in entertainment there are no obvious steps, you fly by the seat of your pants. You’ve got to have the gift of gab and grit.

The research was done with by studying the GED, the high school equivalency test. Yes, it turns out that the people passing the GED were as smart as those who went to high school, but they had a mere fraction of the success. Because you learn something in school. How to navigate the system, how to make friends, endure hardship, get along. That’s the negative to home schooling. You might get a great education from your mom, but that doesn’t mean you’ll become a success. Just like online courses will not replace the college experience. Because most of what you learn is outside the classroom.

We’ve got a country of empty vessels. Stuart Smalleys (Saturday night live character). Who believe if they’re relentlessly persistent, success is their due.

But that turns out to be untrue.

Success is about you more than what you’re selling.

Instead of spending all that time holed up with an instrument, become inspired by reading about subjects foreign to success, whether it be the Galapagos or economic policy or polling. That’s where you’ll get your inspiration, not from watching hours of “X Factor.”

There’s a reason they call it the boob tube.

Sure, there’s good stuff on TV, but you’re not gonna make it if you’re a boob.

Have a look: 

“Opting Out of the ‘Rug Rat Race’: For success in the long run, brain power helps, but what our kids really need to learn is grit”: http://on.wsj.com/RuHXKc

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