Some time ago, my teen daughter went to a teen motivation seminar (that shall remain anonymous at this stage). Gal and I were very happy she was going to participate. As you can imagine, us two life coaching parents are happy with every opportunity for our kids to hear some of our “preaching” from someone else. However, she came back so disappointed, our hearts dropped.
The two-day seminar packed many teens together into seats in a hall (Come one, don’t you know that young kids cannot sit for such a long time and listen? It is against their hormones…) and featured some inspiring people’s stories of achievements. There was one famous athlete and the rest were successful business people. Unfortunately, the organizers perceived success mostly as having money – we should have checked better.
For a short time, the teens were in groups, facilitated by a volunteer (who actually paid money to facilitate a short section of the full two days). The volunteers were adults who received 4 hours of training, but did not require much else in the way of qualifications to facilitate a group discussion (and it showed).
Rags to Riches
Despite everything, Eden did her best to participate and get the most out of the weekend.
Coming back home, she told us how all the presenters had told “rags to riches” stories. They all somehow found themselves sleeping in their car with no food and no house, having only $12 in their bank account, losing everything they had or facing a terminal illness.
“Does this mean I have to wear rags and live out of the rubbish bin if I want to be successful?” she asked, “If I’m starting with a good family and a solid financial situation, does this mean I’ll never make it big?”
Valid point, don’t you think?
Of course, as her parents, we do all we can to make sure she will not live on the street or find herself without food, homeless, changing clothes in her car and showering in service station in order to be successful.
“Of course not!” we said, “It does not mean that at all!”
“Then why did they tell us all those stories?” Eden asked.
I think successful people want to make their success seem bigger. They look for the lowest point in their life and present it as a turning point to make their message clearer. However, I do not believe they mean you have to get that low before you can rise.
It is true that many people need to hit rock bottom (or come close) to realize things that were staring them in the face all that time while they were unable to recognize them. When people lose all they have, they make different decisions. When they face terminal illness, they make better health choices. When it seems like there is no hope, this is when they tap into their last emotional resources. When they succeed, those low points sell well, but not to people who are successful anyway.
I personal had to go through the same process. I had to be kicked out of high school to wake up and find the right path. That was my rock bottom. Every year for 10 years, I had many warning signs that this would happen. Every test, every report card, every parent-teacher conference the signs were there, but I was not ready to see them, maybe unable to see, until one sign hit me hard.
From what my daughter had said, I cannot be an inspiration to someone like her, who was always successful in school, loved every second of it, changed schools many times and still had fun and many friends. Makes sense, right?
So here is what I want my kids to know about success and making it big in the world. Feel free to use it with your kids too.
My dear kids,
I want you to know that success is not the result of horrible, painful, serious, debilitating disasters. Life always has highs and lows and some lows will be painful. Some people get so used to the lows they never rise up drown in misery. Hopefully, the lows in your life will give you strength to rise up and succeed.
Successful people find strength in overcoming tough times it and use them as the best stepping stones of their life. But you do not have to have them in order to step up. You can step up and learn a lot from your successes too, and from doing your best by saying “Whatever happens to me, I can use to my advantage”.
When you are successful, it is only natural to look back to the lowest point and appreciate the journey you have taken. I hope you will learn to appreciate your journey even if the gap is not too big.
Oh, and I promise to help you choose better seminars in the future…