Flipping Ambition: Helping Your Child Achieve More by Effectively Slacking Off (Part 4 of 5)

This is part four of a five-part series “Flipping Ambition: Helping Your Child Achieve More by Effectively Slacking Off”click here to read the rest of the series.

Fake Weeds that Can Trick You

Weeding out the weeds is a great start to a healthy garden of ambition, but it must be done delicately to be most effective. That delicate hand must ensure you’re truly weeding out useless weeds and not accidently ripping out things that may appear to be weeds but really aren’t.

One type of fake weed is a weakness we like to call a “Pivot Point.” The other is a unique skill or unusual strength that you or kid may believe is a weed but is really a phenomenal asset. Recognizing and nourishing both is definitely in order. Let’s start with the pivot points.

Pivot points explained

Pivot points are points of weakness that actually do matter to you and your children’s skill sets, ambition and happiness. While pivot points are weaknesses in the sense they are things at which you and your children aren’t very good, they are not weaknesses you want to ignore. That’s because improving a pivot point, even a small one, can cascade over to improve multiple areas of your life.

A child’s anxiety is a prime example of a pivot point. If you try to ignore something like anxiety, it typically tends to grow and worsen, becoming like a fungus over the entire garden that blankets all other areas with stunted growth and loads of woe.

If you instead address the anxiety, the garden will begin to flourish. Addressing anxiety is a single improvement that can lead to vast and multiple improvements in school, social and other areas of child’s life because it currently hinders them all.

Another example may be something like reading skills. Here is another pivot point that neither of you can afford to dump out of the bucket, so to speak. Reading is a fundamental skill that, when improved, can prompt improvements in your child’s writing, comprehension, communication and social skills. It can also keep them safe when they know the street sign is telling them “Don’t Walk.” They’ll know what to order on a menu.

Speaking of menus, an example of a pivot point from your own life may be something like losing weight. Losing weight is a single improvement that can improve many areas of your life. Achieving a healthy weight can improve your overall health and energy levels, making it possible for you to spend more time playing with your kids.

You’ll also look and feel better about yourself, which boosts your confidence levels and improves your interactions in social situations and your level of attractiveness to your spouse. The next thing you know your marriage gets better, you get a promotion due to your revved up work performance and, by golly, those jeans you wore in high school fit you once again. All these improvements come from working on a single pivot point, and you get to wear your favorite denims once again.

Exercise: Pinpointing pivot points

Review your own day and observe your child’s. Where are you showing bouts of weaknesses that, if improved, could improve various areas of your life? Identify you and your children’s specific pivot points and find ways to work on improving them.

Is anxiety an issue for your child? Do things to increase their activity levels and exercise, just one method that helps quash anxiety. Be open to discussions on what stresses them out or makes them anxious. Make sure they get enough sleep.

Are your kids’ reading levels below par? Take time to read with your child every day. Ask fun questions about what you’re reading or have your child predict the end of the story. Stage puppet shows to go with the text.

Want to lose weight? Bring grilled chicken and take a brisk walk during lunch instead of heading mindlessly for the nearest burger joint.

Improving little things can mean a lot when those little things are pivot points. Now let’s get to other type of fake weed: the screaming differences.

Embracing the zinnias

If you or your child has a unique skill, strength or interest, which we’ll call zinnias, it can make you feel awkward or even embarrassed. You can pretend not to enjoy a particular activity that enhances the strength or avoid the strength altogether just because it makes you feel so different from the crowd.

Cut it out.

Just because your strengths are different than common strengths exhibited from other people does not mean they are weeds. Instill that into your children. Different is not bad. Different can be beautiful! Embrace the zinnias.

You and your children’s unique plot of zinnias can make for a garden that really stands out from the rest. Imagine how boring life would be if every garden only grew daisies. What a tiresome world it would be if everyone only grew corn. Don’t let your children settle for being average with a field full of corn when they can be great if you nurture and celebrate their zinnias.

Exercise: Celebrate the zinnias

Find one or two strengths or interests that makes you child stand out from the crowd of corn. Applaud and encourage those differences and then start to celebrate and nourish them.

Ask your child how he or she can use that unique skill in daily life. Perhaps they can help other people. Maybe the skill can help with their homework or projects. Maybe it can transfer to a hobby or even a career that blows other people’s minds or makes Einstein-ian contributions to science. You’ll never know the greatness your child can achieve with that zinnia unless you help her focus and develop it so it can thrive.

Besides, focusing on what comes naturally can make your children happy. Forcing them into things for which they are not naturally suited tends to annihilate self-esteem. They’ll keep doing the things, being lousy at them, and start to feel “less than” everyone else who may be better at them. They can also start to feel not good enough the way they are, which is really the only way they can ever be. Give your kids a break by letting them let their zinnias thrive. You may all be amazed by the outcome.

More amazement shall be yours with the final article coming up next. It shows you how to really make you and your children’s gardens blossom by focusing on your strengths.

This is part four of a five-part series “Flipping Ambition: Helping Your Child Achieve More by Effectively Slacking Off”, click here to read the rest of the series.