When our son was a freshman in high school, he was told it was unrealistic for him to think he could graduate as class valedictorian and excel on the football field. He had to choose one or the other. It would be too hard. It had never been done. He was being unrealistic. It was simply impossible.
Impossible? What does that mean?
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali once said: “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
I’m all for this in theory.But when I hear this as a parent,I realize Muhammad Ali and I may land on different pages. In other words, it feels at times like Kellee and I are so afraid
of our kids failing or making a mistake that we drain our kids of the courage to do anything spectacular. Students should fear stepping into greatness, into the seemingly impossible,
because it is unknown and scary, but they should fear mediocrity ten billion times more because it is devastating. It takes very little effort or courage to be mediocre, but it does take an extreme amount of fear.
I am learning as a Dad that fear is an awful advisor. It causes me to ask the wrong questions. Fear bends me toward telling our kids what to think instead of teaching our children how to think. Instead of encouraging our kids to explore “What if?” fear counsels me to sound the retreat and huddle in safety.
THINK ABOUT THIS
So, here are some things I’m learning to do as a dad myself to encourage my kids to go after more and not be held captive by fear:
1. Champion greatness. Greatness is not about accomplishment. It is not about what you do as much as who you are. Greatness comes from how you handle your experiences—regardless of how it turns out. It’s an intangible, an attitude, a philosophy rooted in kindness more than success, because the latter without the former is a tragedy.
2. Find someone that loves your student enough to tell them who they are and who they are not. The greatest gift our kids have received are trusted voices that declare they were created in the image of God. At the same time, our kids need to know who they are not. Challenges are relative. There’s a fine line between impossible and limitations. Finding other people who can help your kids determine both what’s possible and what’s simply a roadblock is huge.
3. Let your kids fail. To risk means our kids will stumble and fall. This proposition guarantees tears, frustration, and low-key profanity. But how our kids respond when they fall is what will make them who they are. Defeat is a better teacher than a thousand victories.
Remember: Impossible is opinion until proven fact.
Most of the time, the difference between doing something average and doing something great is having the courage to try. And one way to build that courage is to give students experiences over time that let them know you trust them and believe in them. Reggie Joiner says it this way,
“A kid will never believe he or she is significant until you give them something significant cant to do.”
This week, try trusting your kid with something significant in your home. Maybe at your house that means…
- Asking them to make dinner.
- Giving them a budget and trusting them to buy groceries for the week.
- Relying on them to drive a sibling to ballet.
- Asking for their advice on the family budget or vacation plans.
- Trusting them to take the family pet to the vet for a checkup.
Obviously, it isn’t a good idea to put your child in a situation that is dangerous or that he or she isn’t ready for. But it is okay to trust them with something new that is just outside their comfort zone. In doing so, you’ll let them know that you believe in them and give them just a little more confidence for the next challenge they’ll face.
This article was originally posted
by Stuart Hall