The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created—created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination.
PATHS are how we achieve our PURPOSE. PATHS are those roles we play in life to achieve “success.” Roles like being a parent, a sibling, a son/daughter, an entrepreneur, an employee and/or a coach. Sometimes we have just one, sometimes we have many. Sometimes we choose our roles and sometimes they are imposed upon. No matter what, they constantly change over time.
Teaching our kids how PATHS help them achieve their PURPOSE is Kidmandment #2 because it is a necessary step for them to develop their independence and feel like they are in control of their own lives. Although you might not be ready to relinquish your power and control, the sooner you teach your children about defining their own PURPOSE and PATHS in life, the better off the family will be. Sooner is better than later because we don’t know whether our kids will philosophize on these issues as teenagers going through tough times or wait until they are adults doing some serious soul searching. What we do know is that at some point they will try to answer questions like, “Why am I here?” or “Where am I going?” or even “How can I get to where I want to go?” The more proactive we are in teaching them about having a PUROSE and a PATH, the better chance we have of making a positive impact on their lives.
Just as with PURPOSE… Good Parents will say it is best to let their children figure this stuff out on their own; often times, this is how they figured it out themselves. Great Parents will see the value in accepting responsibility for teaching these concepts and will take action.
The decision is obviously yours, but children who understand this is their life—and their time to explore and discover—are in a much better position to make good choices. Granted, our children’s most important choices about life PATHS won’t begin until they are older. But don’t wait! Now is the time to teach them the skills they need to be “successful.” Those who grasp these concepts will have more confidence in life, because they know they are in control. They realize they have the ability to choose PATHS that help them accomplish their dreams. Confidence is one of the foundational blocks needed to be “successful” in life. Once we understand that we can—and indeed, must—choose our own PATHS, we feel more alive, empowered and happy. Isn’t that what we all want from life? We want to feel like we are in control over our own destinies.
We want to feel the excitement, the fun and even the liberation of being the master of our own domain.
Accepting the responsibility of being in control creates awareness that life offers so many wonderful options; all we have to do is find the ones we’re passionate about!
We need to encourage our children to explore as many PATHS as they can to help them achieve their PURPOSE. Whatever profession our children choose should make no difference to us, as long as they benefit society in some way. We should be focused on helping them find something they love to do and have the potential skills to do it well.
Sometimes, our children have a calling to a certain profession early in life, and stick with it; but this is rare. More typically, young adults will find PATHS that are right for them based on trial and error. This is the wonderful journey of life we all have the opportunity to go through, if properly encouraged by our parents.
Unfortunately, not everyone is that lucky. Sometimes, people go through their whole lives waiting for someone to “tell them” what their PURPOSE is and what PATH they should choose to achieve that PURPOSE. Chances are no one ever will and these hapless individuals go through their non-rewarding lives feeling frustrated and disenchanted. Other times, parents actually dictate roles for their children. These kids ultimately grow up feeling paralyzed and victimized because they are not in control of their own lives. If they finally do “break free,” the damage is already done and they struggle the rest of their lives trying to decide what is right for them.
These concepts aren’t difficult; they just take a little time to discuss. Without understanding how PATHS can help us achieve our life’s PURPOSE, we are like rudderless ships, following the PATH of least resistance. Anyone on this PATH is going to struggle needlessly to achieve sustainable happiness when they enter the real world. As parents, it is up to us to keep this from happening.
In order to maximize our children’s chances for success, we must lead by example. Even when our kids are very young, they watch what we do. They see —and sense—whether we’re happy or not. If we’re not happy in our own lives, it’s almost impossible to disguise this from our kids. If we hope to be a good example for our children, we must first find peace and happiness in our own lives. So I ask you: Are you doing something you love?
If you personally are not passionate about what you are doing, now is the time to change. Show your children you are not afraid to change. Teach them that the reason many people continue doing something they don’t love is because they fear doing something new. If more people understood the difference between their “real” selves and their “role” selves, they would have the courage to try something new.
Our “real” selves are who we are as human beings: just plain old good people with tremendous intrinsic value.
Our “role” selves are the different layers that make up who we are by the roles we play during our lives.
Those of us who understand the difference between the two will always have higher self esteem and have better chances of being “successful.” Why? Because we realize that when we “fail,” we are only failing in one aspect, or one role, of our lives. We have the knowledge to separate our “role” selves from our “real” selves. Adults who grasp this concept understand that it is okay to fail in a role, because we never fail as people. Those of us who do not understand the difference between these two “selves” are at tremendous emotional risk because they spend their whole lives suffering by mistakenly combining the two. They will find it virtually impossible to differentiate between receiving negative personal feedback and failing in a role. Do yourself and your kids a favor. Help them find a PATH they love and learn how to separate their real selves from their role selves—and watch them flourish in life.