1. Capitalize on any spark of talent you see in your child and nurture it.
The only difference between some of the most famous people we’ve ever heard of, and the many more we’ve NEVER heard of, is that someone recognized a spark, and nurtured it. World Boxing Champions Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and Evander Holyfield all tell us the same story. Tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams tell the same story. Although his mother was illiterate, world-renown neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson tells the same story. It is up to us to recognize that spark in our children, and any children we mentor, and nurture it. Only then can it grow and flourish.
2. Don’t be afraid to introduce them to new things. There is a tendency to either push our children towards what we are familiar with, or the path we took as children. This may or may not be where your child’s best gifts and talents lie. Be open to introducing them to new opportunities, even when they are unfamiliar to you. You never played a musical instrument? You were never a swimmer? You were never a great public speaker? So what? That doesn’t mean your child does not have greatness inside him or her in one of these areas that are unfamiliar to you. Be open-minded when it comes to identifying and introducing opportunities to learn and be great to your child. You just might be amazed at how good your child can be at something you were just average at, or were never even exposed to as a child.
3. Don’t let them quit so easily. Self-determination, foresight, and long-term goal setting are not attributes typically seen in young children, or even young teenagers. Children are dependent on the adults around them to teach and reinforce these ideas and qualities in their lives. One of the first things a young person will want to do when faced with an unforeseen challenge or obstacle, is quit. And your first instinct as a parent, guardian, or mentor, might be to save them from the pain, potential embarrassment or pressure of pushing on. Resist the urge to impose YOUR fears onto your children. Behind every young person who is good or great at anything, you will find an adult in their lives who encouraged them to persevere when things got tough. You will find an adult who helped them get up, wiped their tears, and told them that it was going to be alright. You will find an adult who told them that without struggle, their is no progress. You will find an adult who told them that greatness is marked not by never failing, but by how well you learned from and overcame your failures – turning them into opportunities for greatness.
(c) Mervin A. Bourne, Jr.