Today I am speaking at a local high school to 9th graders about self-discovery, the value of mentors and creating a development plan. I finished my first class (1 of 3) a little while ago and am reflecting on the conversation and the attention the girls gave me. I am remembering my 14 year old self – I was playing sports, reading and writing, singing in chorus, helping behind the scenes in the school drama productions, sailing and hanging with friends. I wonder how I would have reacted and how things would have been different if someone had spoken to me about labeling my strengths, understanding my abilities and pursing my passions.
It is career day here at the school. Lots of the students are dressed in their ‘dream’ job outfit. Some emulated my friend who teaches health and fitness and are in track suits. Some are in professional suits. In the first class, I had one in scrubs. I asked her about the scrubs. Her dad is a doctor. I asked her if that resonated with her – was that why she was wearing scrubs? Interesting reply. No. It didn’t resonate with her. She would rather write or do something with writing.
It makes me wonder, what made her put on scrubs this morning? Was it to please her dad? Was it because scrubs are super comfortable and it was an easy answer to the ‘fun’ experience of dressing up for the day? I didn’t have time to delve into the details with her – but how I wish I knew the motivation.
How do we encourage our children to find their own path? Yes, they could pursue our passion – but who would find that fulfilling? The child? Or us? Will we be fulfilled as parents if our children aren’t following their passion? Our passion may be something so far removed from the strengths and interests our child is exhibiting. It may deplete them a little every day to study something they’re not ever going to love.
I meet lots of unhappy people at work. My friends in HR and in management send me their lost souls so I can help them find themselves. I cannot count the number of people I have met that have been in their career for a few years and are just now waking up the fact that they got the degree their parents wanted and are doing the job their parents dreamed for them. And they are miserable. They are failing at work – and some are about to fail their way out the door by getting themselves fired.
I help them take back their personal power – they have the power to change. They have the power to dream a new dream. Each of us has the power over our path in life.
How are you helping guide your children? How are you teaching them to discover their strengths and apply them? If you haven’t done this yourself, how can you teach your child?
Self-discovery is not just for 14 year olds. It’s for each one of us – we do change as we work and learn new skills. Take the time to get to know yourself – or get reacquainted with your passions and strengths. Time to update your development plan and teach your children how to do it too. Give them them the guidance and permission to find their path forward. You will all be happier, healthier and more fulfilled and on your way to living passionate lives.