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The Measure of Success

I found this youtube video of Matthew McConaughey presenting a commencement speech at a university graduation and after listening to it, I wondered how much parents are contributing to the success (or failure) of their children.

What do I mean by this?

Consider how parents are raising their children today. There appears to be two common methods of parenting: Rigid rules (external motivation) or no rules (no motivation) at all. The parents who are all about following the rules gain compliance from their children through making demands, emotional manipulation, even abuse. Parents who have no rules allow their children to determine their days, whether they will go to school, do homework, play video games, or just stay in bed all day. Both of these extremes do nothing to prepare a child for success. One child will break all the rules once out of the home and the other will be lost because to be successful requires work.

The true path to success is through INTERNAL motivation. One must want to be successful first. Then they must have the resiliency to press through the difficulties when the challenges come. And they will come. Resiliency doesn't happen without challenges because it's after you have struggled with the challenge and overcome it that gain confidence for the next challenge. The more difficult the challenges you overcome, the more resilient you become. The constant struggle can feel exhausting, but success is found on the other side of the struggle when you have solved the problem. I heard that Thomas Edison attempted 1,000 times to discover electricity. Success came when he finally did.

Parents need to guide their young children in all aspects of life. When a baby is learning to walk, the parent is helpful and protective but allows the child to stumble and even fall. The child learns that falling is not that bad and soon learns to walk. They continue to learn to run, jump, and play. This is one measure of success, but the process doesn't change for other areas of life. A parent should teach their child to clean their room, make their bed, brush their teach and comb their hair. Simple tasks teach the child self-reliance.

When the parent does everything for the child, even as they reach teen years, the child does not learn how to be independent even when they are adults. They will buy their food (at any cost) rather than prepare it. They will not be able to get a job because they have no self-discipline and will not have developed critical thinking skills. If they are able to get a job, they will depend on their employer to tell them everything they need to do and won't be able to problem solve for themselves. The lack of challenges when they were young limits their success as an adult.

In Genesis 2:15 of the Bible, God places his new creation ADAM the Garden of Eden and commands him to work: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it". All through the Bible you see stories how people worked and accomplished amazing things. There are warnings also against laziness and being "slothful" which leads to malcontent and even destruction. People who work can feel good about themselves because there is evidence of their efforts. Those who do nothing have nothing to feel good about.

So parents, challenge your children. Make them uncomfortable. Introduce them to new situations, hobbies, and environments. Get them out of their "safe zone" and put them in places where they may feel challenged, not unsafe, but definitely challenged. Children who are fearful of a challenge will never learn to overcome any challenge and will avoid living life because, to live life is to be challenged.

"Guilt and regret kills many a man before their time.

So turn the page and get off the ride. You are the author of the book of your life."

Matthew McConaughey


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