Can you remember when you learned to walk? I can’t. It was a long time ago. But I’ve watched children learn to walk. It’s incredible. It fascinates me. Like watching a great movie or listening to a fantastic song, watching children teaching themselves to walk is a reminder of the power of example. It also reminds me just how massive the weight of responsibility can be.
If you think that I’m dramatic, let me explain.
I’ve heard many analogies inspiring us to take lessons from children as they learn to walk. Each one of them makes sense, but up until recently, I didn’t fully intuit why it was that children learnt to walk.
It’s because of us. Children see us walking around on two legs. And the older they get, the more curious babies become. They watch us walking around, getting swiftly and elegantly from the kitchen counter to the sofa. They see us running, watching the wind we kick up in our wake. Babies watch us, and they want a piece of this walking action.
How long does it take them to realise that crawling is just not an efficient way to travel? I don’t know, but at some point, they make the decision that they too will stand. They will walk!
The baby plants her hands into the ground and shifts her weight onto their feet. There’s a brief moment where her legs are holding some weight, and the pressure is right under her feet. Suddenly there’s trembling. Weakness. And then she’s back on the floor. Maybe she cries. Perhaps she sits there, confused about why it didn’t work.
But before they even know that quitting is an option, who do they see? More and more people, walking around! Not one of them is falling over. Not one of them is looking scared while they walk. Babies watch this and don’t see another opportunity to fail. Babies see a chance to try again. After all, overcoming failure is easy when examples of success surround you. In an environment where people have what you want, how can you not succeed?
Just like Tarzan learned to swing through the treetops of the jungle when he was raised by apes, every one of us learns behaviours from the families that we are raised in. Babies learn to walk because there’s no room for anything but walking upright. Walking is like breathing. It needs to happen. There are numerous examples of how it works. Just crane your neck at your mother, your father, your siblings and your grandparents. Go to the mall and you’ll see hundreds more doing the same thing. Success is everywhere you look.
Walking is everywhere. And so, you keep trying. The trying becomes more effective. And eventually, you’re up. And then comes your first step. Then your second step. After that, you’re on your way to becoming a master of this whole “walking” thing. When success becomes your focus, failure loses its power.
Your children may be older now. They may already know how to walk and talk and eat without spilling on themselves. But they’re still watching you. They’re still learning from you. Your limitations will become their limitations if you’re not careful of what you say and do.
As I write this, you and I are examples to the people in our lives. We show them what is possible and equally, what is impossible. Our responsibility in living is far greater than we will ever realise because we are always an example to someone out there.
Isn’t it time that we started acting like the kind of example we want to be? The kind that inspires children to see past limitations?
In her book Mindset, Dr Carol Dweck gave us two approaches to life. The first was to see everything as fixed. Intelligence, talent, everything is predefined and only finite. This belief in scarcity is the Fixed Mindset. It’s the foundation of economics – the use of limited resources.
The other option she suggested was to recognise our learning as a process. Everything we want to achieve can be achieved and mastered with enough time, practice, guidance and help. There’s an abundance of everything in the universe. This approach is the Growth Mindset.
You don’t need to be the best at anything to be an excellent example for your children. All you have to do is believe that you are continually growing, changing and learning. When you laugh at your failures and learn from them, you become the example your children need to become anything, do anything and dream anything.
No matter if these dreams are more significant than yours ever were. Don’t let that scare you. They will find the answers, the solutions to bring their visions to life. Let’s hope that all of our children dream ten-times bigger than we ever could. But whatever you do, as of today, know that your children are watching you.
You are the example.
Until next time…
Be an example of learning!
© The Brilliance Quotient 2018