To pass this week's challenge, you have to take your son to the barber shop.
I don't mean your local franchise stylist or salon. I mean the barber shop. Somewhere where guys with straight razors are shaving necks and cleaning up edges. There's something about a barber shop that can't quite be put into words. You just have to experience it.
Our kids are going to disappoint us. They are going to fail to meet our expectations for them. The vision that we have in our heads for the sort of person they should be is not the sort of person they will be sometimes. They'll do things or not do things and they'll make choices that we don't understand. It will be very frustrating. It is very frustrating.
So what do we do about it? Should we accept that they are who they are and that we should adjust our expectations to meet them where they're at? Should we lower our expectations to the point that our kids don't feel like failures when they fail to achieve the standard we've set?
I'm of the opinion that we should not ever lower our expectations for our kids. We shouldn't lower the standards that we set for the sort of person that we want our kids to become. Yes, they'll fall short and fail from time to time. We'll get angry with them and they'll feel like failures. But that's not always a bad thing and it's certainly not the worst thing.
Kids will strive to meet the standards and will follow the example set by those they trust. If you set that standard low, where the kid is instead of where you want them to be, then you're setting them up for failure and disappointment. Once they achieve that low standard, the chance that they'll continue trying to get better is low. Without the guidance of a parent, a child is essentially abandoned and left to fend for themselves in the pursuit of character.
So how do we deal with the times when our kids fail? How should we respond when they aren't the person that we want them to be? I suggest that rather than lowering our expectations, we increase our grace.
When your kid fails, acknowledge the failure, study it, learn from it, deal with it, and encourage your kid to try again. Don't pretend like it didn't happen. Don't coddle your kid. Do show them the way back to the path that you want them to be on. Encourage them to travel that direction and let them know that you're on the same side.
To pass this week's challenge, you have to set strategic, tactical, and daily goals for yourself.
A part of my morning routine involves stating my strategic, tactical, and daily goals for myself. The strategic goals are large-scale, long-term goals. They may take months or years to accomplish and will have a significant impact on your life. Things like "start a company" or "buy a house".
Tactical goals are the mid-sized goals that directly support the strategic goals. An example of a tactical goal would be "talk to a realtor" or "write a business plan". Tactical goals are usually take a week to a month to accomplish and should move you closer to your strategic goal.
Daily goals are just that. Small, bite-sized tasks that you can accomplish in a day to keep moving towards your tactical goals. For example, "get realtor's phone number" or "read 3 sample business plans" could be good daily goals that advance you towards your tactical goals.
I used to hate discipline. I hated when people talked about it and when my parents and teachers "disciplined" me. I resisted every attempt that someone made to teach me discipline. It was just a code word for "boring" or "tedious" or "punishment".
These external sources of discipline had my best interest at heart and they were trying to help me become a better person, but I didn't understand that. The external discipline they exerted on me was resisted.
I think that my hatred for discipline started to fade when I saw the reward for being disciplined. I don't mean having someone else keep me in line, that's not the sort of "being disciplined" that I'm talking about. I mean being self-disciplined. I'm talking about setting a goal and sticking to it even when you don't want to. I'm talking about holding yourself accountable for your action or your inaction as the case may be. I'm talking about taking ownership and responsibility for my life. That's the "being disciplined" that I'm talking about.
Self-discipline is good. It's what gets you out of bed in the morning to go do things that maybe you don't want to, but know you should do. When you're disciplined, your actions don't depend on your feelings or circumstances. You do what you should do often in spite of what you want.
I don't think I need to describe what happens when we only do things we want to instead of the things we should do. Everyone knows someone that lacks the self-discipline to do the things that they know they should do in favor of the things they want to do and we've seen how that pans out for that person. Personally, I've never met anyone who fits that description that has had life turn out positively. Invariably, that person ends up in an unhappy place filled with regrets.
Self-discipline is a characteristic that isn't held in high esteem in modern Western culture. Ok, whatever. Of course the culture we live in influences us and our kids, but so do I. I get to have an influence on my kids too. I get to set the example for how I want my kids to live. Since self-discipline is a good and important characteristic that I want my kids to have, I need to practice it. I need to be the change I want to see both in the world and in my world.
What should you do that you're not doing? Do you have the discipline to get after it, or will you only do it if you want to? Yeah, good luck with that.