A genius is someone who sees things that aren't there or don't exist yet and finds a way to get there. And the path that he or she takes is through creativity. Creativity is simply the combining of two or more previously unconnected thoughts. THAT'S ALL GENIUS IS.
Is it heredity or environment? YES - both – but it’s there!!! And it’s in every one of us!
Can it be built? I believe YES.
How? By regularly and frequently asking WHY [or WHY NOT?
President John Kennedy said. "Some men see things that are there and ask why? I see things that aren't there and ask, why not".
Gently, tactfully question [or “challenge”] your teen to constantly question their own beliefs and assumptions. Some will be right and solid, some will be urban myths we’ve been led to believe – which might/ could/ should be challenged, stretched, even discarded.
We are FILLED with examples of wrong assumptions - which, when seriously challenged, were quickly denied, rejected, tossed aside.
Examples: no human could run a mile in under four minutes [Roger Bannister]; catching a football with one hand [Odell Beckham, Jr.]; a woman as a jet fighter pilot - all were negated, ultimately rejected. What’s also interesting is that soon after, MANY people duplicated their feat.
Of course, a ‘real genius’ has qualitatively more capacity to take in, process, challenge and re-combine previously uncombined facts and ideas – but it’s more a question of QUANTITY, NOT QUALITY!! Like the Prego tomato sauce commercial used to say – “it’s in there!” You just have to dig it out, nurture it out!
BTW – done gently, tactfully and persistently, this will also be effective if your teen is a ‘problem’ – unpleasant, unmotivated, unengaged, etc.
THE KEY? Question, challenge, wonder…
“You said if I worked hard, obeyed the rules, did what was expected of me or what you asked – I would succeed.”
“Well, I did all those things – and I didn’t make the team, I didn’t get the part, I didn’t pass the test, I didn’t get into that college, etc. etc.”
Situations and questions like these are crucial for parents!! They’re a challenge - a true maturational opportunity. Your credibility is on the line – time for you to be more in-depth, honest, supportive and parental than perhaps ever before.
This presents as a foundational BUILDING BLOCK for your teen’s life and future. Your reply will lead to how s/he responds and reacts to LIFE’S setbacks, long after you’re out of the picture. It’s a chance to be more honest and adult-like than perhaps ever before. It’s also a chance to greatly strengthen your future credibility. “Mom, Dad no longer treat me like a child – they talk to me like an adult!”
The MAJOR, MAJOR POINT? It's time to explain
(1) HOW to effectively and positively deal with failure, THEN (2) how to get back up and keep going in a new or different or better direction.
Defeat will be painful for your teen, but the big lessons usually are. Defeat is a GREAT TEACHER – as every high achiever knows.
Please don’t be syrupy idealistic here – be empathetic, reflective, adult-like and constructive.
And when you offer these thoughts and insights, they will be MINIMALLY COMFORTABLE at that moment.
Failure or defeat has many similarities to the process we go through at the death of a loved one:
denial, rejection, bargaining, acceptance.
But a defeat as a teen should be seen as a learning opportunity, not the end of their future or their dream – it’s a valuable STEPPING STONE! And ‘reversing’ their reaction, could be and should be - portrayed as a beautiful lesson! [Boy, is that hard – but true.]
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE – don’t say “everything will be OK” – because it most likely WON’T. But the champions, the winners, ‘the best’ – will learn, internalize and USE this as a chance to reach and become ‘the next level’ they are striving for.
There are several lessons here, to discuss in depth with your teen – and DON’T FORGET TO LISTEN and empathize:
[Ask] “What did you LEARN from this defeat?”
Here are some possibilities:
• There are [often] other people better than you.
• The most talented doesn’t always ‘win.’
• Most (!!!!) great successes come AFTER multiple defeats – YES, MOST!! [we may not see them, but they happened]
• Maybe you were weak at time management, focus, motivation, discipline or something similar.
• What do you think?
• What do you think you should next or now?
Treasure and value this as perhaps one of your GREATEST parent-moments. DO IT WELL!
an old saying
P6 - Proper Prior Preparation Prevents
of course – that equally applies to Parenting!!
are predictable – as is your teen. And
the challenges teens present to their parents have been around for centuries –
sometimes “clothed” differently – but the same ones. Even Jesus wise-mouthed off to his mother!
which ones will you prepare for? I once
taught a communications class in which I said “there are about three answers to
just about any question you might ask.
Which one would you prepare for?”
[to me the answer was obvious: ALL of them!] I actually had an engineer in the class who
was trying to calculate which one to prepare for!!
point? Take the time to read about the
usual and typical teen challenges –
especially on these posts:
foresee the problems,
plan your reply in advance.
BETTER YET – why not prepare Preventatively?!!
more thing: if what you’re doing isn’t working – DON’T KEEP DOING IT! Find a different approach or strategy. And – no fair trading in your teen for a
I saw many very good, insightful replies to my recent SUCCESS/HAPPINESS question!
Having studied and questioned this for many years, here’s the inside insight:
Success and happiness are NOT the same thing! However, be assured – they are inextricably intertwined!!
Here’s how: happiness is NOT sitting around, doing nothing or wallowing
in the fruits of your labors.
But success leads to happiness, i.e.,
self-satisfaction, feeling of accomplishment, pride of performance, etc.
– and BUILDS self-image… And self-image defines OR limits all human
Success ‘breeds’ happiness – and non-success breeds UNhappiness.
Strive to find something today your teen does – of value – and
compliment them and that action. No need to get overly effusive or
flowery – just an [almost] non-emotional comment.
compliment – even if they [temporarily] “don’t like you” will still have
positive impact and strengthen their success journey!😊
[will enhance SELF-PRIDE]
Ask your teen – periodically,
as often as you’d like:
“WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY THAT
YOU’RE PROUD OF?”
[grammatically, it’s properly
phrased “of which you’re proud” – but that sounds pompous]
Of course, the first time,
you’re almost guaranteed that you’ll get a wise guy answer, an attempt at humor
STAY AT IT, without emotion.
By the second or 3rd
or 4th attempt, s/he will begin to reply with some degree of
Soon, they will begin to
reply seriously, with probable PRIDE in their answer.
BTW – pride is a powerful,
powerful thing. Don’t discount it, even if
you get wise guy answers.
AS ALWAYS, be prepared with a
sincere, sometimes/ almost complimentary follow-up. I have no research – but I’m betting you will
see strengthened self-esteem and even motivation!
Many very wise people have
said that each of us has a unique talent. I believe that’s true. I also believe
that MANY people have never searched, explored nor found theirs. Why not take
this time when your teenager may be going through some very rough
self-understanding times to help them to explore and identify and begin honing their
gift. I'll bet they've got one!
I had a friend in high school
who sat in the back of the room drawing cartoons and such. He’s now been on the
Art faculty at Ohio State University for many years.
Watch, observe, listen, ask
innocent questions, note where they go, what they do. Again, great minds tell us that all human
beings are achievers. If yours isn’t, you
may need to stir the pot [no pun intended].
Remember: ASK, DON’T TELL. Don’t lecture,
instruct, try to teach – unless they ask.
Suggest some ideas, opportunities,
Encourage just about
anything. If you see movement - support,
reinforce, compliment it. Remember – as much
negativity as you may see, realize it’s just a scared kid trying to establish themselves.
If you’re negative, what would you expect them to be?
CRITICAL ISSUE: if you have
given them anything and everything they’ve ever wanted or needed, why would you
question why they have no motivation? OF COURSE they don’t!
Don’t be afraid nor hesitate to take things away. There are three types of motivation: fear,
incentive, achievement. Each has a role.
Fear motivation may be needed now to instigate different behaviors. I once knew a father with a problem teen who,
step-by-step, took things away down to the mattress lying on the floor of his son’s
bedroom. His son was very stubborn. Sometimes, it takes that!
FIND THAT TALENT!!!
Success is NOT what most
people believe: simple, quick, fast, easy, done… - so I can go sit down, chill
out, play video games, watch movies or TV, etc.
That’s actually almost
avoidance – or giving in to that advertising lie – that life is about sitting
around relaxing – WRONG!!!
Success IS LIFE – it’s the
struggles, the challenges, the victories and the setbacks we all go through every
single day – whether it’s traffic jams, forgotten homework, boy-girl
relationships, “teacher, I don’t get it,” ‘I didn’t have the time.’ And every single setback we don’t LEARN FROM
was a waste of that life, that day, that time.
The best parent will ALWAYS
pause, guide, ‘teach’ and help enlighten their teen regarding what SHOULD or
COULD have been learned from that setback.
It’s been said that a failure is a defeat you didn’t learn from. It’s my opinion that any parent who doesn’t
pursue this process is a failed parent.
Will they reject you from time to time? YES, probably just like you did,
to your parents – but we soldier on, just like a soldier – defeats along the
way, onward and onward into battle, on to success. Stay the course!
are bombarded with How-To messages, lessons, sermonettes, advice. Let’s whittle them down to The Three
ABSOLUTES for SUCCESS for Your Teenager, drawn from 25+ years in the success
trenches - coaching, observing, advising, failing, rebounding… These are THE THREE key, top, critical
components: Without them, your student is committed to a life of
mediocrity! And WITH THEM, even if they’re average
in all other areas, they are essentially guaranteed success.
why: we’ve been told repeatedly that
knowledge is power. IT IS NOT! Like a battery, knowledge is potential power – but it’s
useless until and unless it’s connected to something – to life, as it were! To
connect that battery, the three attributes below are the ‘connecting cables’ to
success! And as reported by college officials, far too many college students
are significantly lacking in these three traits.
1. The stamina and willingness to rebound after a
defeat. No one has ever achieved
anything of significance without failing along the road to success. And if
you’ve shielded them from failures or defeats, they have probably not developed
this capacity. [hopefully, not your teenager.]
2. After suffering a defeat, it’s crucial to LEARN
from that setback. REMEMBER - a failure is a mistake you didn’t
learn from. If they keep repeating the same mistake over and over, success is
getting no closer! As a parent, it’s OK for you to ‘comfort them’ - “oh, it’ll
be OK” – but then move quickly on to “what did you learn?”
This can take time, effort and exploration. Recognize that it’s overly
simplistic and virtually worthless to say “work harder.” Your student needs
specifics: do more of WHAT? Do LESS of what? Focus on what specific area or
element? And if they were ‘lazy’ – there’s A REASON they were lazy: didn’t
really care, didn’t really know what or how to it. This is where you explore,
ask, ask, and ask, deeper and deeper.
3. The final prerequisite building block
is true and
real goal-setting. If your student/
teen/ young adult can’t convert a wish or a dream or a hope into a real goal,
they don’t yet have it.’ Real goals are specific and measurable. If that hope or dream isn’t either of those,
they aren’t goals. And if they’re not specific and measurable, you’ll never
know if or when you arrived. The pursuit of goals IS LIFE – whether family and
relationships, business or professional success or physical health, etc. Goals
need to continue THROUGHOUT life!
we said at the top, if your teenager possesses and APPLIES these attributes,
they WILL SUCCEED – even if their “potential” is only average. And if they don’t, you can pretty well bet
they will fall short of their true potential throughout all of life.
your key role as a parent is to check, assure or help them obtain these traits
and habit patterns. DO NOT ASSUME they know and do these things!! If you’d like
an assessment tool please contact us at CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com
for further information or guidance! SUCCESS!!
Let’s look at
how an underachiever – UNDERACHIEVES – and how you can help your teen to
overcome those possibilities or tendencies – and MAXIMIZE their untapped
A true story: I’ve spent 25+ years exploring and
understanding how an underachiever underachieves – by looking in the mirror!
And here’s why that’s valuable to you:
in Illusions, writes “we teach best what we most need to learn.” Therein lies the value to you. I hereby divulge ways I’ve divined to sidestep
and overcome achievement avoidance!
As director of
special education in a small school district, managing [not teaching] a gifted
program, I saw a slice of me in some of our students: having been told
repeatedly how “smart” I was when I was young, when difficult challenges came,
I used the excuse “I didn’t have enough
time – but if I did, I’d have done A LOT better.” That allowed me to retain my (weak) fragile
self-image. Amazing how many years of my
life I used that – AND saw it with some frequency in the gifted kids in our
weak self-image: it may have come from several different sources, but the
solution(s) remain the same. Deep, deep
inside my brain, I just didn’t believe I was “that good.” Hence, that led me to further rev up the avoidance strategy I noted above.
contributing impediment: I didn’t know
about nor use goal-setting and self-discipline.
I could blame my mother, my teachers, anyone else – but I didn’t have it
and didn’t know about it – until I was 26 y.o.
My point? We [I] could spend hours and years in
psychotherapy, etc., et al. But here’s
the answer, simple as it is:
[I like to make
them ‘silly-small’ – so small you’d have to TRY
not to achieve
Set VERY short
deadlines – that creates a sense of urgency which is NOT overwhelming but
time estimates: When we start any project, we have a ballpark estimate of how
long it will take. Even when someone
says “I don’t know how long…” – fact is, they really do have some general idea!
your student into breaking it into no more than 15- to 30-minute chunks or
bites or less!. Hopefully, that will
come close to that ‘silly-small’ I noted above.
If you still notice avoidance or procrastination, break them down even smaller.
coaching high level business execs for 25 years – and that exact strategy
Self-denial and inadequacy
Also – reward
or compliment your student. Example –
they study for 25 minutes instead of the hour they agreed to – notice and
compliment them on what they DID do, even reward them – a cookie or
significant revelation: the REBEL
syndrome.: by that, I mean there’s a part of my mental processing
that says [to me!?] – ‘you can’t make
me do that!’ In recent years, I’ve asked a number of professional
colleagues and clients – and a significant number agreed - that they see this
in themselves as well.
When I start
my day with a task list, my UNCONSCIOUS mind seems to wander [or revolt] and instead
starts on Task Three or Six or something else, instead of Number One –
which I’d planned to start with. MUCH of
the time, it’s something else on that list – so that’s a good thing. So – the key is to be sure you START the day
with a well-prioritized list – and just let your actions roll…
When I ‘allow
this’ to happen, without becoming upset with myself, the day is almost always
NOTE – that’s
bothered me for years: the “just do it’ syndrome. For many of us, that avoidance I’ve been
talking about happens a lot. So some
guru or productivity wizard telling me to ‘just do it’ – has NO UNDERSTANDING
of the avoidance and self-doubt going on inside my head. It’s SO easy for “the experts” to explain so
brilliantly how to overcome these issues – but, be assured, they didn’t start
from that defeatist mindset. As always,
it’s easier to talk about it than to do it!
under-achievers will ALWAYS find a way out – avoiding achieving! L It’s a deep-set psychological structure that’s
probably there permanently – and hence requires DAILY diligence. DON’T believe the urban myth that it takes 21
days to change a habit – that is COMPLETELY untrue.
So if/when you
see your teen/student avoiding or rationalizing or giving in to self-defeat,
gently try these thoughts/ ideas – remain tactful yet persistent – and you WILL
see growth over a period of days, weeks or months. And, as always, the key is CONSISTENT
So if you’ve
got an under-achieving student, try some of these ideas, gently,
tactfully. And, BTW – they WILL also
work WONDERS for average and high achievers!!
And if you’d
like further discussion about these or other teen success issues, don’t
hesitate to reach out – email CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com
Looking for a
solution to a problem teen?
What about STRENGTHENING
an already successful teen?
“It’s a beautiful day in the
neighborhood!” was the intro Mr. (Fred) Rogers [on Public Broadcasting] always used. He lied!! It’s actually true when you’re 4, 5, 6 years old,
but by the time we get to 12 years old and beyond, life begins to present challenges,
Your teen WILL Face CRISES!?
Are you prepared? Are they prepared?
Every teen faces crises –
what they think of themselves,
what their peers think of
what to wear today,
what to say today,
what to do when they’re
offered drugs or other ‘bad choices’
whether they prioritize and
plan – time for homework,
‘wrenching’ themselves away
from a video game or Snapchat/ Twitter, etc.
Wouldn’t it be great if you knew and had
strategies to deal with your teen BEFORE they were forced to face them?
And what about:
poor study habits,
weak and poor motivation,
lack of focus,
UNDER-performing vs. their
Launch-Your-Life is a teen
success coaching program which can provide the decision-making skills for all these
And if you choose to enroll
your teen, that’s great! BUT FOR NOW, our
staff can also provide YOU strategies and approaches FOR YOU to guide
your teen or young adult in facing these INEVITABLE crises.
Please reply here – let us
know which area(s) are most challenging RIGHT NOW – and we will address them
with next week’s post!