Someone asked Morgan Housel what’s the most important quality you look for in a friend. Morgan said it would be empathy. He also said he’s raising a boy now and of all the qualities he want to inculcate in him, he wants his son to be empathetic the most, to better understand the people around him, where they come from and why they do what they do.
That’s what I want the most too in my kid. He shouldn’t be a Jizanthapus and I’d hate to be that sorry-seeking Mom of his. In my house, as asshole kid will get his ass kicked. He should help people below him and at least respect them if he couldn’t.
After empathy, it would be hardwork that I want to forge into their brains. More than intelligence. Intelligence is now a cheap commodity. Every parent has the best stories to tell about how smart their kids are. They aren’t even lying. Kids are indeed smarter these days thanks to all the parenting efforts from youtube. But there lies the danger. If you just appreciate their intelligence, smart-assery and wisecracks they’ll cunningly note this and use it effortlessly to seek your and other adult’s approval. This breeds laziness which is the ultimate sin and a life-waster.
Instead appreciate their efforts. Appreciate her if she put in the hours for an exam even if she still didn’t get the desired result. Show her many examples of how just showing up alone is indeed 80% of success. Show her yourself. Do a 1000 repetition of anything yourself and show her the process and then the result. Don’t be that guy who’s lazy himself but has all the best intentions in the world for his kid. Intentions won’t help.
I follow a certain Jerry Teixeira for his bodyweight fitness youtube videos and tweets. He’s 40 and has a 13 yo daughter and a younger son. The daughter is training in gymnastics since she was 3. She had already put in her 10,000 hours and 10 years into a skill by the time she’s 13. Now she trains 20 hours a week (that’s almost 3 a day) practising some very advanced moves.
In case you don’t know, gymnastics is not just hanging in a bar and swiging. It’s a ridiculously hard sport and requires your whole body to be insanely strong. Besides strength, there’s also the specific skills that are at a very elite, advanced level. If it takes 2 months to go from level 1 to level 2, then it would take a year to go from level 14 to level 15. It’s that kinda difficulty in mastering these skills. She does all of that. She’s 13. Jerry is a proud dad. He says, more than her gymnastic achievements, he really admires and appreciates his daughter’s hardwork and effort. Not every kid these days have the focus and patience to put in 10 years of practice to master any skill. It’s what’s going to distinguish her from others and would allow her to succeed in whatever she chooses to focus on later in life. The important life lesson she’d already learnt by now is that it takes 10 years to be at the elite level of anything. She has so many more 10 years in her life to put her mind into whatever additional things she want to learn and master.
Here’s the tweet discussion where he tells about his daughter’s new accomplishment.
Talent is cheap. Everybody is an unsung genius in their own heads. But it’s hard work that both pays the bills and enables to enjoy life as if it’s a sweet nectar.
So ya, these are the 2 qualities I’ll be keen to embed in my kids: Empathy and Hard Work.
Of course, I can’t embed any thought or idea that easily into another person’s mind like in Inception. The best way to sneak these qualities into them would be first to become that person myself.