Happy parents raise happy kids

Hitting Rock Bottom to Succeed

Lovely young womanAt the end of high school, my teen daughter Eden took a personal development course for teenagers and came back very disappointed. In a two days workshop, every speaker talked about hitting rock bottom before finding the light and that light, for some reason, was a way to make money.

She paced back and forth and stormed, "I never see myself not having money for food or sleeping in my car because I have no home to sleep in. I never see myself without a family to support me. All I got from these presenters was that I must get very low if I want to be successful, which means I'll never be successful. What kind of motivation technique is this?"

I said to her, "I'm sure that's not what they meant" and tried to convince her to find something she could still learn from her experience, but it was no good.

4 years later, I think this course has done more damage to her attitude than I thought initially (although it may still contribute to her personality and attitude towards life in a positive way).

Yesterday, at dinnertime, Gal told the kids about Steve Jobs' famous speech at a Stanford graduation. We had talked about this speech before, but this time, Gal told the kids about Steve Jobs' adoptive parents, his 7-mile walk to get a meal and how he had collected 5-cent coins by returning coke cans and sleeping on the floor in friends' rooms. For a while, Eden listened and asked question, but as soon as Gal started talking about Steve being so poor, she switched off.

Laughing young woman4 years after her loud confident protest, Eden protested again.

You see, Eden is now 20 years old. She has a diploma in Event Management, she is starting her degree in Psychology next week, she works at one of the biggest festivals in town, she is very responsible and successful at everything she touches and she is has a bunch of money saved already (this is just some pride therapy). That is why she totally rejects hitting rock bottom as a motivation technique.

That made me think about myself.

Do I use rock bottom? Yes, I do! Really? Yes, really!

When? When I write… when I speak on stage… whenever I need to encourage myself… when I want to motivate someone…

Why do I do that? Well, I don't know… I'm not sure… Maybe because it describes the improvement better!

Then I understood why she protested.

Which would you appreciate more, a kid who gets a "B" in Math in semester 1 and an "A" in semester 2, or a kid who gets a "D" in Math test in semester 1 and an "A" in semester 2?

Because we are very impressed with the improvement, the second kid gets extra points from most people.

Young womanLet's try another example. Who gets your bonus points now?

Lisa opened a laundry business with a $20,000 investment she had worked very hard to save. After two years, she sold it successfully for $1,000,000.

Laura opened a book shop with a $150,000 investment she had worked very hard to save. She sold it after 2 years for $1,000,000.

Is this fair?

Do we only notice the difference between the starting point and the ending point? Where is the real starting point? Is it really when they opened their businesses, or maybe it was when they started working and saving money? What is success? Starting harder (Lisa) or starting easier (Laura)? Who was more successful at saving money?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that using rock bottom as a motivating technique may be a story we tell ourselves to justify getting ourselves (intentionally or unintentionally) to such a low place. I can hear my daughter saying, "What would you be saying if you were still in a bad state?"

It is true. We never see or hear the people who hit rock bottom and stay there!

Giving extra points to underdogs is very disempowering to successful people. I can hear my daughter saying, "Mom, don't you always say the best thing to do is to point out positive things and achievements if we want to see more of them?"

Ouch!

Smiling young womanI strongly believe that overusing the rock bottom technique promotes celebrity idolizing, lottery addiction and overnight success chasing. I can hear my daughter saying to me, "Mom, I never want to hit rock bottom to succeed. I would rather sleep in my soft, heated bed, have a family that supports me, enjoy my food at home or at a restaurant, study something I love and be successful".

You know what? As her mother, I would like that too! Wouldn't you?

Ahhh, the joys of parenthood. I have a daughter who is wise beyond her years. I am so proud of her.

Happy parenting,
Ronit

As promised, here is Steve Jobs' speech (highly recommended viewing):

You may also want to read

  • Pingback: ronitbaras

  • E

    oh! oh! That is so true!! It's like when everyone just assumes that the rich kids are going to be wildly wealthy because they came from money. Then when they succeed it was OBVIOUS that it was going to happen and it's really no big thing. While it might be true that people who are poorer have to put in more of an effort to get the same amount of money, or the less smart students have to work harder to achieve those top marks... is it less of an achievement if you were a good student, or a middle class person?? In actual fact, I think when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. If you did worse, no one would notice but any improvement is immediately noticable! But the people who are in the middle are comfortable. Why should they change? If they go down, everyone is dissapointed in them and when they finally find the motivation to improve themselves, well... it's no big deal. I think it should be noted!
    Can you tell I feel strongly about this? :)

    Love your stuff!

  • Danielle Relation

    Steve Jobs is a genius! the speeches he takes are fabulous! the speech was so great that after hearing it, i forgot what you wrote :)) thank you for the video... i did not know about it but it motivated me..a lot!!!

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    Hi Danielle,

    I love him too.
    He is an inspiration to me.
    I heard him so many times and every time I hear him, it is inspiring again.
    It does not matter that you did not remember the what I wrote about, as long as it made a difference, it makes me happy.

    Wishing you great success
    Ronit
    The Motivational Speaker

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    Hi E,

    Yes, I can tell you feel strongly about this.
    I never grew as a rich girl so I do not know what rich kids feel but you know what? I agree with you.
    I always said to myself, it is probably not a big thing for rich kids.
    I became rich much later in life. I was a very rich student and I realized that poor people like saying things like that on rich people because they are blind to the effort, blind to the commitment, blind to the hard work. Poor people say things like that to themselves to they could keep being poor and have many excuses to why they can't succeed like rich people.
    I have to say it was very painful to realize this.
    I think the catch 22 is that you realize this only when you become rich!
    I have a feeling you are a women, are you?
    thanks for the comment.
    By the way, it sounds like you are a rich person, is that true?
    I have a feeling that only rich people complain that not rich people think like that.

    Happy day
    Ronit
    The Motivational Speaker

Ronit Baras

Be Happy in LIFE logo     Book your private life coaching with Ronit Baras and learn how to be happy in life