What Can You Do to Help the Next Generation Perform?

Business Leader Post, May 15, 2012

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

The best advice in any challenging situation is often the most counter-intuitive. Take golf, for example: When putting, the most important thing to do is to keep your head down when all you want to do is to see where the ball is going. And when you are hitting your driver, you have to swing easy when all you want to do is to hit the ball as far as you can. Or take basketball: You’re at the free throw line at the end of the game. The crowd is cheering wildly. Your free throw will determine the outcome. What should you do? Relax—much easier said than done.

So it is with parenting. You have watched your children during every part of their lives. You have seen them struggle. You see their lack of maturity. You know what you were doing at their age and the significant issues that you had to overcome, and you see them continue to struggle with those same issues. And yet, the best advice is both simple and counter-intuitive: Believe in them—even though believing in them comes with big risks, even though the imagined and real consequence of their performing poorly makes it all the more difficult.

It comes down to three things: choice, commitment, and confidence. You choose to believe in them because not believing in them will only increase the odds that they fail—it is very difficult to perform without the support of loved ones. Secondly, once you make the choice to believe in them, commit to that choice. It is the only way you can succeed. How do you beat someone who never gives up? And finally, have confidence. If you want to believe in your child, you have to believe in yourself first.