Educating the Youthful Mind
As we grow up, during different stages of our life, during our youth, we take on different beliefs and opinions that we embody and place in our mind. We become more aware of ourselves and our needs. Our individuality becomes more apparent as does our own choices and beliefs. We take on a personality of our own, dependant on our environment, the people around us and what we believe in. This character and personality is what is commonly referred to as the ego.
More important, is what is not seen – our mindset. Those beliefs and ideals that we have, direct the whole course of our lives. When our education has been beneficial to creating a mindset that is to our well-being, our lives are more likely to be happier and joyous. That doesn’t mean that we won’t have any failures or bad experiences, but the way that we deal with them will be from a better standpoint.
For most of us that’s not the case and we must re-create our mindset.
But what if there was another form of education directed towards that purpose alone? To create a mindset for success?
Education for Success
Education, formal education, is directed towards providing us with a set of ideas and knowledge. These change with time as we, humanity, learn new things. But, in the majority of schools, there is no education for success and successful living (unless your school has a Personal Development tutor).
This is a different type of education. It is based on providing an understanding of what is possible if you use your mind the right way. A mindset for success.
Young children will not understand a direct explanation of how our mind works. We need to use stories and examples they can relate to.
Teenagers will have their own interests, usually some game on the PS4, X-Box, laptop/desktop or their mobile. Again this can be used as an example. The game has some point to it right? They have targets to reach, a point to the game? They are still goals.
This education is our responsibility. We are responsible for providing it. And we need to get creative on how we explain it.
It’s about installing an idea, the need for goals, confidence, self-reliance and self-esteem.
If we don’t, then the generation growing up now will be no better than the generation before it in understanding the power of their mind.
To do that we need to get past our own beliefs and perceptions.
Let me give you an example; whilst looking for a photograph for this post I searched for studying. The majority of the photographs show people at all stages of their life on a laptop. Not writing on pieces of paper, but on laptops. How much of the standard education system is directed towards that?
Yet, it could be that my perception is also outdated, wanting a picture of someone writing on paper and instead I should have someone on a laptop. That way of thinking is my mental make-up. Here I am, though, typing this on my laptop. A bit of an oxymoron.
The children we are responsible for are now growing up in a digital age. The most digital I got when I was a kid was a couple of sticks and nails to create something, a standard calculator and a ZX-Spectrum, when I grew up a bit, which I had no idea how to use.
My generation is known as Generation-X. We have undergone the greatest technological developments in the shortest amount of time. We have seen more change than anyone else before us.
So we are now at a point where what we believed to be true no longer applies. Things have changed. There are more digital nomads creating a living from their laptops than ever before, because it didn’t exist before! The standard nine to five job no longer exists. And no job can be said to be “safe”.
Youths of all ages are still being told that the best thing they can do is be good at school, so they can study, get good grades, so that they can go and study more, so that they can eventually get a good job.
I’m not saying that formal education is not needed – it has a place in society for a reason and always will. What I am saying is that it’s not the only education that’s needed.
Have you asked your child recently what it is that they really want to do?
If what they want to do needs a good education, a doctor, nurse, lawyer, accountant, then formal education is a must. But what if they want to be a dancer, an artist, a sculptor, a musician? Again a form of formal education is needed, unless their talent is obvious.
They need to feel and believe, however, that those options are still feasible. It’s our thinking that says that it’s not, our beliefs and opinions. And yet there are those who have followed their dreams and succeeded. It’s our fears of their failure that is our stigma.
Creativity should never be stifled – but so often it is, at school and at home.
If you’re ex-military, a veteran, it’s likely that your child may follow in your footsteps. It’s the same with whatever profession you are in now. Think about this. Is that the direction you want your child to take?
Maybe you are thinking, “It didn’t do me any harm!” No, maybe it didn’t. It didn’t do me any harm either. But, it’s not the direction I would direct anyone else. The only direction I can give is “Follow your heart, your passion”, because that is the only way they can get on their way to enjoy their life. Even if your child does end up following in the path that you have taken.
What about your fears? At the bottom of the page I’ve included two studies of how parents can pass on fears to their children. The saying “Like father like son; Like mother like daughter”, is apt here. These old wives tales have something going for them!
In short, the studies show how a child’s fears can be predicted from the fears that a parent has. You might think to yourself that you don’t voice any of your fears, not verbally anyway, but your actions and reactions to certain situations will also have an effect.
So your child has chosen to go their own way.
What if they fail? They fail. What they need is the right way of thinking, the right tools, the right mindset to turn that failure into a win. To realise that to fail, small or big, is part of the process. Quitting doesn’t exist.
If you realise that what you are doing now is not what you really want to do and decide on something else, that’s not quitting. It’s a change in direction. It’s a lesson. Yes, it can be seen as failure, but it’s better than staying where you are when you know you should be doing something else.
But don’t change direction too often. That could be a sign of a fear guiding you. A fear of failure, a fear of success, a lack of confidence. Here, a bit of “soul searching” is called for. You’ve got to ask yourself the “why” question – Why do I not follow things through? Why do I keep looking for other ideas? Why don’t I want to do this – really?
You need to identify why you want the change.
These two questions from Zig Ziglar have always guided me:
Is what I’m about to do, fair on everyone involved?
Does it take me closer or further from my goal?
I like to add a third question:
Am I doing this out of fear and scarcity?
The key to answering those questions correctly is whether you have a direction, a goal or not. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you make the “right” decision?
Even no decision or making no choice is still a decision and a choice.
For anyone to make a decision they have to know where they want to go, what they want to end up doing in their lives.
They need some goal that they can aim for. Any goal needs to be something that can be achievable to build confidence. At the same time, not all goals are there to be reached – they are there to make us grow.
Each of us is different and even though two, or three or a hundred people want to do the same thing, be a hairdresser for example, no two will ever be the same. That is what’s so amazing about each and every one of us. The saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” applies so aptly here, meaning that each of us see beauty in different things, in different ways.
So, in reality, there is no competition, there is creativity.
Figuring those goals out is not easy. It’s easier when we know what we love and enjoy. We look at ourselves. Sometimes we fall in love with a skill that is learned and we end up wanting to do that for the rest of our lives.
Where there is no or little support, a child cannot thrive. As children we all need encouragement and support. It gives us what we need to drive the passion, to create the self drive. It creates self-esteem and self-confidence. Needless to say, a lack of support and encouragement leads to low confidence and self-esteem.
Even with this we may not find our passion until later in life, but we are well equipped to go through life to find it.
The right way to think
Any child and youth that has the right mindset, the confidence and self-esteem to follow their dreams and goals is more likely to find joy in their life. That is what this is about. To make sure that the next generation is able to live a better life than we have. And by our guidance they will do the same with their children, and they with theirs and so on.
Where do we begin to do this? This is the hard part. We start with ourselves. We lead by example, the motto of my corps during my years of service – “Exemplo Ducemus”.
We change our mindset and the mindset of our children changes. And whilst we’re at it, we include them in the process as much as we can, as much or as little as they want, so they learn as we do. This is not something that can be forced – it must be wilfully accepted. But it is always better to show by example.
By providing an environment that is beneficial to growth, we provide a better chance for success.
Success is different for everyone. It could be the guy who always wanted to be in the fire service and is brilliant at their job. The person who wanted to be a gardener. The bus driver. The property salesman. The digital nomad. The entrepreneur. Success is not measured simply by monetary wealth, which is the current preconception. It’s measured by the level of fulfilment we have in what we do.
A mindset for success ought to be part of the education for our youth and ourselves. It’s a lifelong learning process. And the best time to start is now.