Master’s Champion Jordan Spieth.  I was as fascinated listening to his comments and seeing his poise as I was watching him play the game.

The emotion of his parents, Shawn and Chris Spieth, put a lump in my throat too.  I can’t wait to hear more from them.  They raised someone outstanding.  Master’s winner or not.

I don’t know how the Spieth’s did it.  I’m pretty sure it didn’t magically happen.  Sometimes parents of successful kids say to me,  “We were just lucky.”  And I always reply,  “Luck is a small part.  It’s takes hard work to raise a great kid.

I don’t have the answer for raising another Jordan Spieth.  That will have to come from his mom and dad.  I do have a story of one little boy and his parents and what they did to make sure their son chose success over failure.

failure-or-success

Often a new Chapter begins with a very simple tweak.

A few years ago I was doing a Family Retreat and as things were drawing to a close, I invited the kids to attend the last session with their parents. I wondered if any of them had any issues they’d like me to address with their parents.

A hand shot up immediately from an 8 year old, freckle-faced, red-haired boy who could have been sent from central casting. He was completely full of himself and not one bit shy. Needing no encouragement, Jack shared with everyone (including his parents) his real problem at home was homework. He said his mom and dad were always after him to get it done and . . . well . . . he just didn’t like doing it.

I invited him to come up to the front of the room for an experiment and he didn’t need a second invitation. Did I mention there was not a shy bone in his body?

I explained for the next few minutes we’d pretend I was his mom and we’d try a new way of handling homework. In fact I told him (as his role-playing mom) it was perfectly ok with me if he decided to not do his homework that night.

Jack’s reply, “Cool.”

And I asked him what might happen if he didn’t turn in his homework the next day.

His reply, “It probably wouldn’t be good.” But he was still smiling, going along with our little role-play.

“What might your teacher do if you don’t turn in your homework . . . say . . . all week?” I asked.

“Well, I’d probably get an “E”.

I agreed and said I was fairly certain he was right. And then I asked, “What do you think might happen if you decide to never, ever again turn in one page of homework for the rest of the school year?”

Jack thought a second and then said, “I guess I’d fail 3rd grade.”

To which I replied, “I think you are absolutely right, Jack. And you know what? Some kids try 3rd grade two or even three times and maybe you’re one of them. For me? I’d rather keep up with my friends and make sure I made it to 4th grade. But no matter what you choose to do, I’ll love you just the same.”

Jack looked at me, stunned. I gave him a hug and thanked him for sharing and he went back to his seat with a round of applause and a dazed look on his little face.

And this is where Jack’s new Chapter began.

no-more-homework

Embrace A Change in Your Way of Thinking

Four months later, I ran into his mother and dad at another event. They are wonderful people and Jack’s transformation had their enthusiasm bubbling beyond normal.

Jack’s mom said, “Linda, we aren’t exactly sure what you said to Jack at that retreat but he is a changed kid.”

Mom and dad explained that Jack now comes home from school, has a snack, and immediately sits down and completes his homework for the next day. In fact, he finishes homework well in advance of the due date. There were no more homework battles, no arguments, tears, pleading, threats, frustrations, scolding, or tantrums.

 “It’s magical!  What did you do?”

And I said, “It wasn’t anything I did. It’s what you started NOT doing.”

As long as Jack knew his mom was worried about his homework getting done, it wasn’t his worry. He knew she’d somehow or other make sure he’d sit there long enough to get it done. Only when his mother put the task of homework squarely on Jack’s shoulders . . . where it belonged . . . did it become his worry. And his responsibility.

The result?

Jack was given the opportunity to fail. And he chose not to.

What if he’d chosen the other path? you ask. What if he’d decided to fail third grade?

And my reply is this: he’s going to learn sometime. And it’s much easier . . . with a cheaper price . . . to experience & learn from failure at an early age rather than a later age.

How do you plant the seed for success in kids?

You start by giving them the opportunity to fail. And the thrill of figuring out how not to let it happen again.