This video from TED got me thinking as a parent about teaching perseverance to children. What if your child had this crazy idea that he or she wanted to play with a yo-yo as a career ambition? Honestly, I wouldn’t feel optimistic about that kid’s future.
My husband would be moaning that our kid would need to be financially supported for eternity, perhaps failing to launch and living at home forever.
It doesn’t have to be a yo-yo dream. My middle daughter wants to go to hair school. There’s nothing wrong with being a hairstylist but it isn’t my dream for her and it doesn’t seem to jive with her other dreams (which I’m more behind) of going to Stanford — playing soccer for Stanford actually as an outside midfielder (she gets more specific with each passing year) and becoming a billionaire. Because I googled billionaires and no hair professionals came up. Not even Jennifer Aniston hawking Living Proof made that cut.
But, as a parent, perhaps my impulse to flatten a dream that I don’t see a future in is just plain WRONG. The jobs of the future are a glint in someone’s eye right now. There’s also the argument that pursuing your passion is more important. The corollary being: do what you love and the money will follow. I also like: If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
I also believe that a weird juxtaposition of skills truly does make you unique, valuable, and irreplaceable. Sometimes you just can’t see how they will come together but it somehow does. Mindy Kaling’s a good example. To be successful, just study hard, go to an accredited college, work random jobs that don’t seem to add up, write your own material, work hard, stand your ground, and become a quadruple threat (all while exacting revenge on the tormentors of your youth): author/writer, actor, director, producer.
At fourteen, BLACK discovered his passion for the yo-yo. By eighteen, he was a world champion but without yo-yo job prospects. He had a traditional salaryman job as a computer programmer. He quit learning classic ballet, jazz dance, and acrobatics to make himself into a yo-yo performer.
It’s a great story but as a parent, tell me if you would have freaked out. Your son says he’s quitting his really good job to study dance. I’m half Japanese and I KNOW his parents would have been FREAKING out and not in a good way.
How Do We Parent Passion in Our Kids?
Since I’m in my mid-40’s (and rapidly hitting my 50’s), I’ve witnessed many friends, some with expensive and difficult to acquire MBAs, flounder as their career skills no longer matched what their passion was. In fact, some didn’t even know what their passion was exactly. They just knew that their six-figure jobs were feeling like golden handcuffs.
It’s easy for me, as a parent, to applaud Mr. BLACK and knowing that the unknown has turned out favorably. If my child has professional yo-yo aspirations, perhaps I will even remember this video to provide a glimpse into that career path. But for every yo yo dream, will I remember that this is a yo yo dream too? My oldest wants to be an artist. My middle a hairstylist/billionaire. My youngest to play video games — ok, I turned his Yo-Yo dream a bit sideways and have been whispering “yo yo developer” I mean video game developer.
As for myself, I was a failed pre-med who started a business out of a dorm room with two friends. I was chosen because I could type really fast. Two years of typing including summer school will do that. Also took sewing classes in a high school summer session. These don’t seem like life-changing decisions do they? But they resulted in a multi-national staffing agency and a women’s golf clothing business. There were other start-ups as well that I fronted: print magazine publisher and online accounting business.
My question for you is how do we parent passion, irregardless of career in our kids? And is this even important? Is a crazy, unpredictable, and seemingly financially unsuccessful series of jobs the true path to career self-actualization, a mid-life crisis’ polar opposite? You tell me.
p.s. As for Black, in five years I expect him to be opening for rock stars.
p.p.s. I do think he needs a snappier name. How about Samurai Yo-Yo? Or Ronin Yo-Yo?
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