Raising children inevitably leads to thoughts about their potential. More simply stated, what are they going to do with their lives? It is an amazing feeling, to see the world laid out before your children and the vast potential out there for them to take advantage of. I know they can do amazing things.
However, the reality is that few of us really grasp this potential and make the most of it. We allow life to jostle us on our way, but we often don’t grab the steering wheel and drive fast in a clear direction. To mix my metaphors, we drift on the sea of life, letting the waves take us where we are going.
Yet how to convey this to my teenagers? How to explain that focus and passion are the real keys to success, the real keys to maximizing their potential.
I had a conversation yesterday with two British friends of mine. We all went to school at around the same time. Two of us drifted into degrees and subsequent careers. One of us never made it to college, but chose a career early and had the confidence, the drive, and the focus to pursue it very successfully. Yes, she had a passion for her work. With passion comes a desire to work hard and put in the extra hours; with passion comes focus.
We set to discussing our hopes for the future of our children. The general consensus was that one should pursue an interest one enjoys because it is better to be happy and poor than to be miserable in a career that you will probably quit. I have to add a very important rider to this. Don’t just choose an interest you enjoy. Luke warm interest will just make you poor. Find something that you really love, because in order to be successful in life you have to be willing to work hard. Really hard. And you will only be willing to do that for something that you are passionate about.
So, to my children, I offer you a world of opportunity. Yet for you to participate in it, be willing to dedicate your energies to the things you love. Just liking something isn’t enough. Do what you love.