Everyone wants their children to be successful. Some children seem to naturally gravitate to success: they are the Willow Smith's and Bill Gates of childhood. They are the ones with lemonade stands in kindergarten, and a profit- turning blog at 10.
But what about the child who has potential, but needs a little help getting there?
One of the most effective ways to help your child be successful is to show them how to model success. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an example for your child. Instead, it means helping your child find someone who is fantastic at what your child wants to do, and following in their steps.
Modeling: observing and mapping the successful processes which underlie an exceptional performance of some type.
Modeling success can be broken down into eight steps:
1) Help your teen discover what they’re interested in.
This isn’t always as easy as you might think it is. While a teen may spend all of his time playing video games and watching television, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s destined to be a game developer or movie reviewer.
If your teen has an idea of what she’s interested in, you can start from there. You can also try books, magazines, or groups in your area. Many times high school teens can audit courses for a small fee at a community college, or they can try their local community center, which sometimes has all kinds of unusual classes.
Your teen could also fill out a free online career aptitude test These are great for identifying potential interests, and will also give you a list of possible careers to explore. Even though you’re not interested necessarily in finding a career –although the best career is one that your teen naturally enjoys – the list will give you a good idea of where to start.
2) Pick the best model in the world. This is easier to do than it once was – with the web, you won’t have to worry about flying to Italy to study the world’s top sculptor. You do, however, need to make sure you choose the best. Why go for second when you can have number one?
3) Find a live person to mentor.
You may not be able to get time with number 1, so you might have to settle here for Number 2 or 3. It still may not be easy to do, but encourage your child to interact in whatever way they
can, be it twitter, commenting on a blog or web site, or attending events. It may take time and your child may need to drag you along for supervision, but its well worth the effort.
4) Learn everything about what they do to be the best
This is a lot easier to do than it used to be. In addition to books, articles, and a web site, you might get lucky and be able to watch a few free online video courses given by them. Don’t give up if you can’t find any videos; networking might turn up videos from a fellow admirer.
5) Don’t just mindlessly do whatever they do.
It’s well known that only 20% of the effort we put in something will give us 80% of the results we want. There are always a few critical things they did that took up a lot of effort but gave the most results. Make sure your teen does whatever they can to uncover what those things are.
6) Model what they don’t do.
Being successful means doing some things, and avoiding other things at all costs. There’s no need for your teen to repeat the same mistakes, so encourage your child to find out, through taking careful note of their model’s history and actions, and even by asking outright.
7) Take the good and leave the bad.
No one’s perfect. It’s a fact that can be painful to realize, especially when you find flaws in someone you’ve admired until then. There have been numerous leaders and innovators who’ve lead admittedly less than stellar lives – personal and otherwise.
Having said that, you might want to consider if you want your teen modeling themselves after someone who is particularly offensive. Since they will be literally immersing themselves in the other person’s world, they are likely to be influenced by them, even if it is unintentional.
If on the other hand, the person in question has made some mistakes, and even admits to them, you can point this out to your teen, encouraging them to find other models that fit into your teen’s and your family’s values.
8) Be yourself.
Modeling can only take you so far. At some point, your teen will need to stop imitating and take a step out on their own. Doing this will not only let their true personality shine, but will also be the key to real success.