Follow by Email

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Defining Success

My high school economics teacher once gave me an article about thinking. The premise was that people do not spend time thinking as much as they should. A well-known worrier, I have, over the last five or so years, tried hard to think more, fret less, and ponder possibilities. While reading Paul Tough's book HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED: GRIT, CURIOSITY, AND THE HIDDEN POWER OF CHARACTER, I have found myself thinking about the qualities the author identified in countless studies focused on success. With the hundreds of children I see each day, those qualities are visible, as well as the adversity necessary to teach them to persevere.

The author visited numerous schools across the country, especially ones with populations that reflect some of the most challenged students in regard to poverty, family support, and academic performance. Repeatedly, he found well-meaning adults whose work with challenged students resulted in degrees of success. Mostly, he used the stories, examples, and research to define what it was in certain students that led them to be successful. Words like grit, conscientiousness, self-control, and character (that hard-to-define term) surfaced.

In raising our sons, we followed much of the same course as the author did with his son. Our children had access to books, role models who read and investigated things, experiences with learning beyond school, and the assurance that there were people who loved them deeply. But they also faced adversity in various forms. The author says it was important to remember that his son "also needed discipline, rules, limits; someone to say no." p. 183

As I continue to think about success, I am hopeful there will be others with whom I can discuss this important book.


  1. I think I need to think more. Interesting that I am again returning to meditation which requires NO thinking.

  2. This is a very important subject. I recently heard a radio show about young people of high school age who come from adversity in terms of abusive family experiences. For them success meant mastery of simple daily tasks in life verses broader career aspirations...What strikes me in what you wrote is that your sons had books & enrichment...but that above all they had love & an environment that had meaning...

  3. Will tell us who created the lovely art above?

    1. It was made with rubber stamps, Rita. Easy. Not like your sketches and paintings...I keep trying though.

  4. this card is beautiful. it shows grit, curiosity, an eye for color, a sense of balance, and that most indefinable quality of character.

  5. This seems so fallish.Spring, please.... hahahaha