The importance of children following their passions was brought home to me recently in the most unlikely of places. A car yard! We’ve begun the arduous search for a new car and have met many salesmen in the process. When we walked into the most recent car lot a young man who looked no more than 12 greeted us. Okay, so he must have been older than that because he had a license, but he certainly looked fresh out of high school. We didn’t mind, as we just wanted to test-drive the car.
It quickly became apparent that of all the salesmen we have come across, this young man was the most articulate, most knowledgeable and by far the most passionate about his job. I thought given his age that he may have been working part time and studying something else, but no, this was his full time job. He obviously loved what he was doing and that made him good at it. I couldn’t think of a better place for him to be.
He had been raised around cars and when his family went in to buy their latest car he knew more about it than the people trying to sell it to him, so they offered him a job.
That’s how he went from driving golf carts on the weekends to working full time for a car company.
I have no doubt that he will be incredibly successful and bring joy to a lot of happy customers along the way.
It was a reminder to me to encourage my children to discover and follow their passions. Academic pursuits may be suitable for some children if they are genuinely interested however passions and purpose won’t always be found within the confines of school. For other people, finding something meaningful and satisfying may come from a hobby, sport, music or an even less likely place, such as a car yard.
Encourage your children to find and follow their passions because at the end of the day their happiness is what’s most important.
Here are some suggestions for helping your children find their passions and purpose.
Exposure: Offer a wide variety of activities to your children, including sports, hobbies, theatre, music and art. Encourage them to try a range of different things until they find something that excites them.
Play: Although passion may grow from an extra curricular activity, it may also evolve from hobbies or play. It may come in the form of having a shell collection, making dolls clothes or building marble runs.
Depth: Allow children to explore areas of interest in greater depth. This may mean providing plenty of experiences and additional information or it may simply mean stepping back and letting your child become lost in an activity. Experiencing flow is a motivator in itself!
Share: Talk with your children about what inspires you, the people you admire and why certain you are drawn to certain experiences. Take time for the things you love, too as this models to your children the importance of following your dreams and enjoying what you do.
Support: Listen to your child’s dreams, even when they might seem far-fetched. If your son says he wants to be a merman, avoid scoffing and instead ask him what it would be like as a merman? What interests him about it? Who knows, it may spark a conversation about marine life, which suddenly is not so far-fetched.
Motivate: Avoid using external motivators such as rewards and praise as these lead children to follow their parents agenda rather than their own. If children are intrinsically motivated then they are more likely to pursue goals for themselves. Being accepting gives them permission and encouragement to explore there own goals and dreams.