The (often overlooked) power of passion…
People who are really successful in life follow their passion. So we tell our younger generation to follow their passion. But most of us only TELL them. We NEVER really SHOW them how or even LET them do it their way!
Most kids do not even know what they are passionate about anymore. Why? Because we never really took the time to understand what is it that they are passionate about.
Or worse still, we choose to ignore their passion because we are too preoccupied with what they should do in school and what they should become according to our idea of what is a good profession for them to go into. In fact, many of us are too hypocritical or ‘pragmatic’ to admit that we want them to do what we think is the right thing to do all the time.
It is therefore no wonder they do not know what they are really passionate about anymore.
I know this because I ask my students every time I meet a new class for the first time. I think the fact is that they initially knew what their passion was (and is). But the parents or teachers never encouraged it.
So they think it is not important – what they are passionate about is not important and think that the only important thing for them to do is to be following instructions.
I am sure many are aware that most of the international students studying in accounting, business management or whatever business courses that they are doing here in business schools in Australia are really the result of their parents’ arrangements – they are just a pawn in their parents’ game plan.
I say it is time for our kids to go follow their passion and our job to guide them and provide them a supportive environment to bring out the best in them in whatever endeavour they have chosen as long as it is moral, legal, healthy and contributes to the society at large.
We should not worry about the seemingly important and relevant (but actually nonsensical) issues like whether their chosen passion has a high socio-economic status or not.
It is actually nonsensical because when you are really passionate about hairdressing, you will not end up as an ordinary hairdresser, you will become the most successful and the happiest one in town … or anything else for that matter.
Because there is passion! (I only use hairdresser as an example because most of us mistakenly think it is not ‘high-class’ enough mah)
I don’t know about other parents, but this survival skill that I have in mind is personal financial education – financial literacy, knowledge about money, the importance of investment knowledge and the ability to achieve financial independence as early in life as possible.
If we parents do not get this personal finance right, we will be spending money in the wrong place. Sending them to the ‘best’ schools, buying them the ‘best’ toys or whatever hoping they will somehow get a head start in life.
Not me. I have come to realise that the ticket to success in life does not come from having a good degree alone. Head start – maybe. But I want my son to finish happy. To do that he has to play his own game and run his own race. Not the rat race whereby the chance of winning it is as good as winning a lottery.
Look at all the people who were laid off due to redundancy, downsizing and outsourcing. These people are all very good order takers, following every instruction given by the bosses.
What mistakes they make for being laid-off?
They followed every instruction – just like what they did in schools. These are A star students and now A star employees. Yet they were being punished for mistakes they did not commit. They were being punished by their bosses who made the wrong business decision and they punish not themselves but their staff. Not a very good survival strategy is it?
When we manage our finance well we will be more relaxed about our children’s studies. We will not put every hope in them doing well and hope they will then one day achieve what we have filed to achieve.
Living vicarious lives through our children is the cruellest thing we do for our children – it is not fair for them (to have to live theirs and your lives at the same time) & not fair for you (to waste your remaining years on this earth away!).
Yet too many of us do it.
I know because I see people around me doing it and if I am not careful, I would become one of them too without even knowing it myself! And I am sure you know that too – there must also be someone like this around you. If not, please send this piece of writing to someone who does know such people.
To diverge a little in this little paragraph here… We always think the orphans in the orphanages and the children who are handicapped and abandoned are the most pitiful children in the world. There is another class of children – well-fed, well-clothed, given the best material things money can buy. And they have parents whom the society regards as respectable (because they are educated, professionals, decent-looking, polite in speech and family-oriented) people in the community.
I say we need to also pay attention to these kids. To reach out to them is even much harder than to reach out to the orphans – for we can just go straight to the orphanages and children’s homes to meet them and to present gifts to them. But this class of ‘privileged but oppressed’ kids do not need our gifts – they have plenty of ‘good stuff’ in life.
Yet they deserve no less attention and sympathy from us all – they are children all the same with the same vulnerability like you and I when we were younger.
How then can we help them?
We can convince their parents. We can refrain from becoming them and this will in turn save our own children! We must remind them (and ourselves) that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Good intentions and money alone will not automatically guarantee their children a successful and happy life. Remember, we have only one year to treat our six-year-old the way a six-year old should be treated – which is pretty much to leave them to themselves to decide what they want to play and learn. But only one year! They will never be six years old again next year. Very soon the child will be taller than us and it will be too late.
Recently I came across a book written by Dr Peter Gray entitled Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-reliant, and Better Students for Life. The book highlight the importance of play in helping children to learn what they feel they should learn at a time and place they decide – not as and when and where and what we tell them to learn.
No wonder many children have trouble concentrating in class doing what they hate to do. Many even know that they will never be allowed to do what they truly passionate about.
Peter Gray also points out that this play thing is part of nature. Young animals and children of the hunter gatherer tribes are always given the opportunity to play as much as they want and the parents just watch them from a distance and only offer assistance when they seriously get in trouble.
And what do these offspring play in their play?
The tiger calves will play fighting and chasing around with their siblings simulating the catching of their prey in real life. The gazelle (baby giraffes) will play running away as fast and nimble as possible from their predators – their very survival skill is to use to speed to escape their predators!
So the hunter-gatherer kids will play whatever game they need to master in order to survive. Yet the clever modern human beings today are going against the law of nature by forcing their kids to learn to pass exams as if our very survival and success in life depends.
In the real exam of life, if you do not bring food on the table, you fail – BIG TIME – even though you answer every question right! Since we have a bring food on the table, we might as well enjoy our job, career or livelihood.
It is time for us adults to go back to our passion (in a logical, step-by-step approach of course) and show our younger ones how they should also go after their own passion.
But how does one find one’s true passion?
The younger ones have been restricted too much in their lives to focus on school exam and schools whereas the adult themselves have forgotten what their true passion was except they only know one ‘passion’ money, money and more money (with no knowledge of managing it) and face and more FACE (to keep up with the Joneses)!
Perhaps most of us adults have been suppressed too much by our own parents as well… or whatever… who knows?
The first step is to review and improve our financial habits and learn how to manage our finance wisely without simply throwing money into education for the sake of competing or keeping up with our kids’ classmates.
Then we will have more time to reflect and also feel more relaxed. When we are more relaxed (because we do not have to work extra hours to pay for their extra tuition fees), we tend to make more correct decisions.
The second step is to follow our passion and let our children follow our passion.
For those of us who have forgotten what our passion is, the BIG thing to do before taking the second step is to find out how to find our own passion.
This article was written by Ken Soong (co-author of Migrating to Australia Good Meh???”)