I was inspired to write this insight by watching a friend of mine practice for a competition, and against all the odds come out second.
She had a tough upbringing. I won’t go into the details but let’s just say that she didn’t have the most loving nor the most encouraging family and they certainly weren’t great role models for her becoming an entrepreneur. Nonetheless, become an entrepreneur she did.
Her own passion in life is to be an inspiration to her children. She doesn’t do that by telling them what to do, she just lives her life and lets them watch.
Recently, she entered a competition and was very determined to win the top award. The entry process required a lot of preparation and a lot of practice on her part. She not only had to practice but she had to run her business at the same time.
Her children watched her practice. She asked them for their feedback in the same way that she would ask anyone else that she practiced in front of. Ultimately she came 2nd out of a possible 40 individuals; a fabulous result.
I thought to myself – what would her kids have thought if she practiced so hard and still didn’t come so close to winning in the competition? Would that have made them think hard work is not worth it?
In the end, I realized I was thinking about it all wrong: the mere fact that she practiced as hard as she did for as long as she did means whatever the result, they would have been impressed by their mother’s effort and they would have empathized with her regardless.
She would have gone home and told them that, “As hard as I practiced, everyone else practiced way harder and that’s why they beat me.” The lesson to them would have therefore been, you need to work harder than you saw mum working to progress.
My friend is living the dream, she is an inspiration to her children but the unfortunate truth is that many parents are not. Parents generally set the standard for what is acceptable and these are a few of the things kids learn in the process of being brought up:
These are just a few examples. I’m sure you can think of many more, like the culture of fixating on football or some other sport. TV culture is probably the worst of it and I myself am not immune to it. I was complaining about barely having enough time to do work since I gave birth but in 8 days I watched all 24 episodes of Season 1 of “The Good Wife” – yet, I have lots of educational DVDs that I have paid good money for waiting to be watched (!). I’m not perfect but I make a concerted effort to be different.
How do you think parents can break the cycle of poverty?
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Heather on Wealth
I enjoy helping people think through their personal finances and blog about that here. Join my personal finance community at The Money Spot™.