The best way to influence your child’s success? Let them know all about the journey to your successes AND failures.
When you become a father, there’s a tangible shift in what drives you. You’re no longer just chasing those professional milestones in hopes of career advancement. You now have mouths to feed.
You strive every day to make something of yourself so you can provide for your children. By putting them first, you become the best possible version of you.
But that kind of tunnel vision can come at the expense of your children’s development. The last thing any man should do is let his professional fulfillment deter him from the most important job he’ll ever have: being a father.
Living Up to Great Expectations
When you experience great success, you gain more than a higher standard of living — you earn a reputation. Reputations become legacies. And while being someone your children look up to sounds ideal on paper, the weight of the expectations your last name carries might be overwhelming at times.
Your children may believe the way to earn their parents’ validation is to exceed or emulate their past successes. The overwhelming pressure from that mindset may cause your children to never follow through on anything, be it college, a relationship, sports, or a job.
We see many of our students shackled by this same train of thought. A debilitating fear of failure makes them wary of trying anything. They fear that failure — or even a mistake — will make them less valuable in their parents’ eyes.
In other words, they may think, “There’s no way I could ever be like dad, so why even try?” The burden your children feel to follow in your path is an unnecessary one — many children want to make their own mark.
When parents use their own lofty achievements as a benchmark for their children, they can unknowingly diminish the importance of their offspring’s dreams. They feel like their independence and talents are going unnoticed because the only thing that’s a true measure of success is being just like you.
Your success doesn’t have to inhibit your children’s ambitions. In fact, when executed correctly, it can be a great ally and motivator.
Here are three things hard-working parents can do to inspire their children’s ambitions:
1. Lead by the right example
You can’t be everywhere at once. An unavoidable byproduct of hard work is that you’re going to miss some things.
So maximize every moment you get with your children by being the confident, honorable person you hope they become one day. You’re not going to be there all the time, but every second you spend with your children can be a learning experience. It’s all a matter of consistency.
2. Balance success
There’s a fundamental difference between taking pride in your work and constantly reliving the glory days. Instead of hyping past achievements, highlight what it took to get you there: persistence, hard work, and belief in your abilities.
Success should be stressed as a result of your character and strength. Striking this balance also illustrates to your children that there’s always something more to gain than the next business benchmark.
You can always strive to be a bit better without letting your successes go to your head. This is an invaluable lesson you can teach your children.
3. Stress incremental improvement
Ricky Lundell is someone I greatly admire — and for good reason. He’s guided the careers of several successful UFC fighters and coaches the nationally ranked Bishop Gorman High School wrestling team using a simple creed: Improve every day by 1 percent.
It’s an attainable, results-driven strategy and a perfect teaching mechanism to use for your children. It not only shows them to temper the expectations they already have for themselves, but also that consistent and steady improvements are what truly get things done.
Showing your children love through hard work makes sense. However, on the road to becoming something, you often become someone. You’re not just a father or a successful employee — you’re someone your children measure themselves against.
It’s up to you to ensure that the person you become doesn’t overshadow your children. Channel that same drive and determination you display at work toward being the best father you can be.
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Photo: Getty Images