If At First You Don’t Succeed
One of my favorite quotes is from familiar author and speaker Bob Goff, and goes like this,
“People don’t change when you tell them what to do. People change when you tell them who they are.”
Often, as I engage with teenagers and young adults attempting to manage and overcome social pressures to prove, perform and produce in a culture growing more and more emptied of deep connection and face to face conversation, their anxiety and fear of failure is almost tangible. The world tells them they have too much information not to succeed and too much freedom not to fly high. Realities of comparison and competition drive their extracurricular activity, their career path, and sometimes expectations and interactions at home. What’s your relationship with failure? How does your family measure it, and what’s your model in dealing with it?
In any given moment of parental weakness, I can inadvertently measure the success of my children by responsibility flaws or by the pieces of social drama that may surround them. On worse days, I may remind each of a list of things they can do better to feel better or more accomplished. As a parent, it’s often hard to gracefully know and hold both potential and patience when it comes to our kids. On better days, I remember that my child is not what he/she does or what he/she feels. Ever. Like me, they’ve been formed and fashioned with a fuller value. On my best days though, when fear or failure has left its mark, I remember to put a sticky note in the lunch box, or on the steering wheel, or send a text that says, “Hey, I’m not uncomfortable with or disappointed by this outcome, because you’re amazing and you’re full of the good and timely stuff that great purpose grows out of.” I remind them that they are already the best version of themselves and it’s a privilege to journey with them. I remember to ask, “Hey do you have someone to share hard things with?”, “Can I be that for you right now?”, and I encourage them that “Whatever you learned from that experience is enough. You are enough.”
Look for opportunities to show your teen how you bounce back from failure. Talk about and affirm their disappointments, and then, tell them who they are.
Director of Church Engagement