Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Uniqueness of Every Child

I’m mesmerized by the teamwork I see in the Olympic diving teams. The precision of pairs of young women who seem to know not only what their bodies are doing spinning in space, but manage to keep perfectly in sync with their diving partners. I think to myself, if a human being can accomplish this feat, who knows what else we can do.

I look at the girls on the Olympic swimming teams, grateful for the world that they found their talents and passion. We are all the richer for their dedication and talent.

I think about all children. I think that every child is unique and each is born with his/her own particular set of strengths and talents. But I see that most children never get a chance to discover their gifts and miss their calling. I wonder what our world would be like if everyone found their talents…what a different world it would be! There would be so much more inner peace. People who are living their passions tend to be more content, more compassionate, and more willing to create a better world.

So, what happens to most of us? We lose our way. We either lose or never had the opportunity to connect to our gifts. In fact, if our schools focused on helping each child find their gifts and talents, we would have a whole different world. No more angry adolescents…kids who graduate high school, or even college, not knowing who they are or what they love to do…kids who do not know how to create in the real world.

So if our schools are not able to help our children connect to their passions, we must. As parents we must help our children find, develop and sustain their interests, skills and talents. We must help them ignite the passion that leads to their own unique brilliance. We owe it to them and we owe it to our world.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Success Can Be as Simple as Staying in the Moment

Four years ago, the Olympics came and went in my life. Nothing to phone home about.
This time, however, it was quite different. It captured me. I listened as the moderators talked about not just the physical, but also the mental and emotional preparation of the athletes. This Olympics, for me, was full of lessons and metaphors and heart.

But one lesson sticks out more than the rest. One of our girls on the gymnastic team did not fair so well. On her first event on the beam, she fell. It was a difficult maneuver and she didn’t quite make it. But other gymnasts had also taken tumbles and come up with medals. Here was her mistake. On the second competition, according to the moderators, she brought her feelings of insecurity from the first experience into the second event and, as a result, tripped over something really simple. On the third event, the moderator said that our athlete had to ‘stay in the moment’ to succeed. If she wanted to stay in the running, she had to drop her experience from the first two events and not carry it into the third. She had to be fully alert and aware. Being distracted by reliving her feelings and memories about the two prior mistakes could only take her away from the moment and contribute to failure.

I thought about the application of ‘staying in the moment.’ I thought about all our school children who carry feelings of insecurity and incompetence forward, into the next lesson, the next semester, the next year, and into adult life. (I thought about how nice it would be if schools actively built on a child’s successes, not his failures). But in the meantime, I wonder what would happen if schools helped each child wipe their slates clean…if they didn’t average a child’s grades together…if they said to them, the problem you had with math happened LAST week. Now, let’s start over.

I wonder what would happen if along with physical education classes, we had mental education classes? What would happen if we learned early on to be conscious of our thoughts and feelings? Maybe then we could truly stay in the moment and succeed at the tasks at hand.