The boy didn't have a fever and there were no visible bruises on his head - I checked. He also didn't misunderstand the question because it was explained. Yet, when questioned on what my boy wanted to do when he grew up, he answered in full illustration that he wanted to "jump off a roof with a trash bag!" While I often tell this story and you may have heard it before, the image of this always jars me as it doesn't seem at all plausible at ending positively! Since that time though, I've learned that at that very moment, success to him meant the achievement of a thrill - a possibly fatal one - but a thrill none the less.
Whether we'd admit it or not, the measure of success in life differs from person to person. Some associate it with wealth, others education, some a social plateau, and even more - fame. What this means to me is that success can be measured on a multitude of scales but where does it come from? How is the very idea of it birthed? More importantly though, how do we assist with cultivating a proper idea of success in our children to mean other than the perpetually promoted money, cars and clothes?
Growing up in a culture promoting such ideals, I learned that our culture portrays success differently from other cultures and from what history reveals it to be. Different from what the characteristics of the fruits of success actually resemble. I've also come to the conclusion that culturally, the idea of success in our youth has been, on all accounts, switched at birth. One that sets us on a path that, once achieved, leaves us empty and used with often fatal results. One that as parents, we need to recognize and correct if we ourselves should actually deem ourselves a success.
As we grow, we can't help but notice that our perspective of success changes. This is because we're exposed to more, the doors of opportunity open and/or close before us and we learn that what we first thought would buy us joy declines to do so. With that point, I argue that the birth of true success is in the acknowledged importance of one's true cultural legacy. Understanding that in the end, it's your positive contribution toward uplifting a culture that leads to fulfillment and true success.
So what does this mean? It means that as parents, success for us is communicating to our children what their legacy consists of. In addition, we must realize that the qualities that determine success are not simply IQ scores, talent, and class, but most importantly opportunity and environment. Realize people that WE are their environment and with enough effort, we can provide them with more than ample opportunity to have them - once it's all said and done - deem your efforts a success. I say let us first educate ourselves about what true success is and then provide our children with a full illustration of its fruit. Success switched at birth??? Check for bruises and let's get our babies back!
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