Does success in life depend solely on the efforts of the child or do parents also have a role to play? Read on to find out.
By Team ParentCircle
Parents are handing life’s scripts to their children, scripts that, in all likelihood, will be acted out for the rest of children’s lives.” — Stephen Covey, American author, educator
We all want our children to enjoy the fruits of success, but do we really understand what actually constitutes it? More important, do we ever think of the role we, as parents, play in shaping our children’s future successes?
The truth is that success is not an accomplishment; rather, it is the outcome of accomplishment, which is why it is pure and divine.
Professor Lea Waters, Director of Center of Positive Psychology, University of Melbourne, Australia gave an interview to ParentCircle in October 2015. Her special study on a concept called ‘strength-based parenting’ grabbed worldwide headlines for its uniqueness. She stated, “Strength can come in the form of the child’s personality (e.g. courage, kindness, fairness), talent (e.g. musical, analytical, artistic, intellectual and sporting abilities) or skills (e.g. communication, problem-solving, planning and organisation, and time management). Parents see the strengths in their children and their fear subsides as they realise they can use these strengths to be happy, to make meaningful friendships and to achieve success.”
Let’s simplify this by taking you on a special ride. We reached out to some of the most successful names in India, a fine balance of achievers from different fields, to understand the traits and values they picked up from their parents that helped them in their ‘successful journey’. Going through this ‘elite’ list, you will realise that most successful people picked up some stunning traits by merely watching their parents. After all, behind every successful child, there is a parent.
Very interestingly, none on the elite list discuss terms like talent, education and choice of stream. This only reaffirms that it is not the talent or choice of career or stream that defines success, but the traits exhibited in the pursuit of happiness. So, what are those values and traits?
We all know the age-old phrase — 'There’s no substitute for hard work.' Our exercise of reaching out to successful people only reiterated that belief. All the respondents emphasised the importance of hard work. In a world where competition is the name of the game, the dividing line between success and failure can be misleadingly thin. Some say these traits are the price of success, but they are actually the pride of success. After all, whatever the outcome, you will at least have the big satisfaction of having put your best foot forward. Badminton star Saina Nehwal exhibits these traits in abundance. She wakes up before 4:00 a.m. each morning and displays unflinching commitment. The results are there for us to see.
“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” –Aristotle
Each of the achievers we talked to was driven by his or her pursuit of excellence. To these people, the pursuit of excellence is a journey, a path they travel every day. The achievement of one set goal is only a stepping-stone to reach the next higher goal for success.
Excellence is not about being perfect. When we talk 99%, 100% looks perfect and when we talk 100%, we use phrases like ‘Give it more than 100%’. So, perfection is unreal, but does that mean we don’t strive for excellence? Definitely not!
In a world where the top ranker and the hundredth ranker are separated by a mere few points, the pursuit of excellence could be the key differentiator.
More than 50% of the successful people we met hinted at honesty and integrity as being the key contributors to their success. And why not! You could win mini battles without being honest, but you are never going to win a war. Teaching honesty and integrity at an early age can build an excellent foundation for a great character. Most importantly, these traits act as the cornerstone of success. Remember what the world-class cricketer Adam Gilchrist did during the semi-final of the Cricket World Cup in 2003? The umpire had given him 'Not out' after he edged the ball to the wicket keeper, yet he walked. That it was a match of high stakes did not matter to the legendary Australian. He may have lost the battle by getting out, but won the war by being honest. Maybe, that’s why we are talking about that incident today, even though it happened a good 15 years ago.
The easiest trait, technically, yet it is among the most ignored ones. Parents struggle to set an example. Last-minutes, late arrivals and missed deadlines are like viruses. Until they are eliminated from the system, the journey to becoming successful is going to be a daunting task. Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder-CEO of matrimony.com is often the first man to arrive at his workplace and is known to be always on time. There are many positives to being punctual. It is an expression of a positive personality. It demonstrates respect for others and their time. It builds self-discipline. Being punctual can inspire others to be so too, thus enhancing overall productivity.
Success tests you. It is not easy to succeed. Often, when faced with challenges, it is easy to just give up and walk away. It may take days, months or even years, but with the right patience and persistence, success will, at some stage, be at your doorstep. Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar after six failed nominations and 27 years in Hollywood. His grit and steely resolve ensured that success, although delayed, was delivered.
Having a competitive spirit is not merely to win a game or a competition. On the other hand, it is a natural motivator for self-improvement and success. It drives a person to work hard and put in the necessary effort to achieve his goals. It brings focus and discipline. It is also about accepting defeat gracefully, yet having the mindset to take the necessary steps to do better next time around. None of the people we talked to would have been able to succeed without this spirit of competition in them.
A humble soul is full of respect for the self and others. When a person accomplishes a lot, there will be the feel-good factor. But, when this turns into arrogance, there could be collateral damage to a person’s career. The most successful people are those who remain grounded, irrespective of their feats. PR Ramasubrahmaneya Rajha, Chairman, Ramco Group, reflects on how his father took a meaningful step to help him understand this. His experience in working as a labourer at Binny Mills instilled in him the value of leading a life of simplicity.
It is safe to say that humility fosters success. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Humility makes great men twice honourable.” How true!
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Several ‘Life skills’ experts have directly linked self-discipline to professional success. It is important to remember that self-discipline does not mean closing the doors on several elements of lifestyle. It is about the ability to make the right decisions at the right time, to achieve the desired outcome. Do you know why PV Sindhu stayed away from her favourite dessert of ice cream for a good one month before the 2016 Rio Olympics? Because she had a goal to accomplish. The end result just about showed why that tremendous self-discipline mattered.
Swami Vivekananda said, “Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God — this is the secret of greatness”. There will be situations in life when you work hard, stay committed, exhibit self-discipline, remain patient and yet find success elusive. That’s when faith and spirituality come into play. You need to have faith in your own abilities, dreams and goals. Above all, you need to have faith in God. Many studies have indicated a positive correlation between faith in God and success. They talk about faith enhancing a person’s ability to maintain a balance of thoughts and emotions.
According to a popular definition, ‘Resilience is the optimism to continue when you’ve experienced some failures and times are so tough that others see continuing as futile or impossible'.
Success is a journey filled with many obstacles. When all things fail, it is our abundant reserves of courage and resilience that bring us back into the contest. Many successful people we spoke to, could have given up at some stage but for their resilience. Imran Mirza, father of tennis icon Sania Mirza, stresses, “I have always believed that once the fear of failure enters the young sportsperson’s mind, there is very little chance that he or she can succeed in handling the pressures of professional sport. So, I worked on helping Sania enjoy the struggle of coping with losses and competing hard in tennis.”
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