This 30-second TV commercial has been running during the Olympics on NBC.  The young man featured is a member of the 2012 U.S. Men’s Gymnastics team and a Silver Medal winner in the 2008 Games. I love the parenting lesson woven into the commercial copy.
When faced with a kid who exhibited an unusual passion for unusual activities, they encouraged him.  Of course, that’s what ANY parent would do, right?  You won’t find much argument against encouraging your children.
But here’s something you may not know – kids who have a positive outlook on their own personal futures do better in school than those who don’t.  Writing on The Gallup Blog, Gallup Senior Scientist Shane Lopez reports that ” . . . we busily get our students ready for the next big test, including state measures of achievement and the ACT or SAT [but] we . . . lose sight of what really matters to our students — the future.”  The on-going study–The Gallup Student Poll–has shown that students with higher levels of hope for the their own future are more likely to graduate and more likely to do better in school.
So, here’s a question:
How hopeful would Jonathan Horton have been if his parents had, instead of arranging gymnastics lessons, told him that mathematics, literature or even some other sport was where he should concentrate his attention?  What kind of future would that kid have been able to gin up if their response had been less supportive?  Hope for the future requires the vision of doing activities that draw you in, energize you, make you feel strong.
Honoring your native genius doesn’t mean you ignore the other areas of life.  There’s a good chance Horton’s parents held him accountable in other areas.  Here’s the truth: We know about their son because Mr. and Mrs. Horton adjusted their own dreams for Jonathan’s future to match his natural abilities.
Do you do the same for your kids?
Do you do the same for yourself?