5 October 2014

Life is a series of journeys; an amalgamation of possible routes all laid out for you. But without any signs or a map to follow, how do you know you’re going in the right direction?

You could argue there’s an internal guidance; a sense of what is to come and a collection of lessons to draw upon when we need pointing in the right direction. What I’m interested in, however, is how much someone’s starting point affects their final destination – how much the lessons they learned at a young age influence their decisions later in life.

For Gail and I watching the girls grow up is a journey in itself. Every day, they absorb information and learn new things. That’s what children are like; they’re sponges for information and they take in a lot more than we might realise.

As a parent, you want them to see the best of you and to feel supported by you, and you find yourself trying to pass on all the great lessons life has taught you.

I’ve heard angry mums and dads tell their children, “I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did” and whilst I understand the protective instinct, they will invariably make their own mistakes. Your job isn’t to shield them from this, but to prepare them and to let them know that actually failure isn’t a bad thing if it can change you for the better. In fact, sometimes failure is the kick up the arse you need to light that spark and get you on the right track.

A colleague of mine once told me about her parents’ favourite saying, which they used when she was about to give in at something. Whenever she would complain, “I can’t” one of them would reply: “There’s no such thing as can’t.” It makes you wonder, would she be in the same place now if they’d let her give in?

On the flip side, you often hear successful people explain that a teacher or parent said something like; “you will never amount to anything” – the desire to prove someone wrong is a powerful driver and I have experienced this in my own lifetime.

So what’s the answer? Why do some people find their way in life while others get hopelessly lost? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What inspired you to take one path instead of another?

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