First 30 Days Blog

28 oct

Get Ready to Pass the Baton

JayForteAs parents we all love to think our kids are great at everything. We love it when they walk early, talk early, excel in art class, earn good grades and are athletic. We brag, we boast – we feel so proud. It’s natural.

But nature, biology and even divine intervention seem to feel that we aren’t good at everything – that we should specialize. We are all different and must learn to understand ourselves to know our specific talents, strengths and passions – those attributes unique to each of us – so we can learn to find our best fit in today’s world. And when we find our place, we can create our best and most personalized lives – lives that are just right for us.

Inspired by our DNA are brain connections that are strong in some areas and weak in others. Early in our brain development, the brain allows the weaker connections to wither, allowing our strongest connections to lead. These connections create our personality, preferences, talents, strengths and passions. We are hardwired in very particular ways and our greatest performance (and happiness) happens when we understand this hardwiring and use it to make meaningful decisions about our work and life.

Science supports that we are good at some things and not others; we love some things and not others. Our greatest impact happens when we play to what we are intrinsically good at. We start to know this as we reach our later teenage years. Some realize it sooner, some later. But to realize what we are good at and are passionate about takes effort. It takes work. It takes work that each of us must do; we can’t do this work for our kids.

As parents, our role is to get them ready so we can pass them the baton of life – to be capable of taking it and running their life’s race. They choose where, how fast, with whom and how to run.

We are their coaches and trainers. We help them see their greatness – their talents, strengths and passions. We introduce them to the world so they can start to determine their best place – their best fit. We introduce them to the world so they realize they have choices – and the best choices will be those that allow them to play to what they are great at and passionate about. To be able to make these choices, they must know themselves and their world. And we bring all this together for them when they are young. We help them they discover the unique gifts they are born with and start to find their best place in the world that lets be who they were created to be.

When each of my three daughters graduated from high school, we hosted a “passing of the baton” ceremony. We explain that in the past 18 years, we have worked to help them discover who they are and have tried to show each of them how big the world is – to see all that is available. But when the baton is passed, they will own it all – their direction, success, happiness and choices. They will need to find their best fit – their place in their world – to be happy and thrilled by life each day. This is what is required to take the baton – to own your life.

We are still available for counsel and conversation but they must use all that they have seen to start to make wise personal choices – not to please us, be who we think they are supposed to be, or live as we feel they must – but, rather, to define happiness and success for themselves. We don’t tell them who to be. We remind them they must be the best at whatever they choose – and their best and happiest lives will be built around what they are good at and are passionate about doing.

Each of my three daughters has chosen wisely for herself; each took the baton and has owned her decisions, career and life. We may not always agree with the choices, but we realize they now own and invent their lives – as we did so many years ago. It is a wobbly process to start but with the right coaching, they learn very quickly to make good decisions.

Someone told me once that the worst thing a parent can hear their child say is “I have a miserable life.” We want our kids to be successful, but must also realize that success in our eyes may not be success in theirs. Maybe the better line is that we want our kids to love their lives and be thrilled by life each day.

So how can you coach your children well, to be ready to take the baton when it is passed to them:

1. Spend meaningful time with your kids and let them share what they think, feel and love. Listen generously.

2. Expose them to many things; many times our kids become things or do things because they didn’t know greater things were available. One of my favorite ways of showing kids the great choices in the workplace is to Google “job titles.” The sites show titles of jobs that many of us never knew we could be. It expands their options.

3. Watch the personal biases and judgments as kids start to connect to what matters most to them. An impartial approach allows kids to consider everything.

4. Careers and interests don’t always follow from parent to child. Allow children to search for those things that capture their interest, and always require them to see how what they are interested in fits in today’s world (they still have to make a living and move out of the house!).

Our kids are great – at some things. And effective coaches help their players (or kids) discover the things they are good at and then work hard to get better in those areas. This allows them to move from good to great. And to be successful in life, you must find your thing, then be great at it.

For me, the greatest success as a parent is a happy and passionate son or daughter – one who loves his/her life and does each day what he/she does best. That is success in my book. I don’t need or want my kids to be like me – unless that is what they want. Besides, the world needs us all to be different, to add the texture, color and richness of ideas and impact. We invent our world by those who live in it at this moment. To have the best world, we need everyone in their “greatness zone” – that place where they are connect to their best and share it with all of us. Help them get ready to take the baton and live their greatness.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, performance consultant and life coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and The Greatness Zone; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform Your World. Jay guides organizations – their leaders and managers – in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He coaches individuals how to reconnect to their talents and passions to achieve extraordinary personal and professional performance – to live their greatness. More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com and www.TheGreatnessZone.com.

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Posted by Jay Forte on October 28th, 2010 in Career, Family, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Teens | 0 comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

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