In a world of ‘Little Princes’ where we as parents do our utmost to give our children a better future than our own, do forget the fundamental factors that dictate true character building? Most of the great success stories have been laid on a foundation of hard work, attempt, followed by failure, followed by another attempt, followed by failure. There is no shame in failing; there is only shame in not making an effort. Failure can be the greatest opportunity to learn in life.
Therefore, if we accept the notion that is learning in failure, character building in hard work then we must also accept that if deny our children (or ourselves) the process of working hard, making an effort, self-depravation and sacrifice, we are ruling out a major part of the character building process. I know that I had a far more privileged life than my parents, who made every effort to prevent me from suffering poverty, or suffering any of the many pitfalls that life can throw our way, but as I approach the last few years of middle age, I can look back and see that in their haste to protect, to guide or even control, their efforts may have had the opposite effect.
It is true that we are all different and as a society it is those differences in character that define us but still unite us on the common road that we must all travel from the womb to the tomb. However, it is an empirical fact that where we deny experiential suffering we deny experiential learning. Sadly, we can become so complacent about longevity that we forget that we are ALL on borrowed time, there is no happy ever after there is no owning of anything, we are all little more than leaseholders. It is not what we have that defines us, it is what we learn and the process by which we gain that knowledge.
Sitting in a lecture at University, discussing ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs’ is not in any way a substitute for learning to get our priorities right the hard way. The reason I selected this speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger is because this is a man who is a quintessential definition of self-sacrifice. He had nothing, he worked very hard and made time to train religiously, without sponsorship, Steroids or even a personal trainer (at least in his early days) but he did not give up and the rest you know.
My favourite quote in this video
A sports writer asked Muhammad Ali, how many sit ups he did…
Ali replied “I don’t start counting until it hurts”
As we approach the end of 2018, we naturally reflect on the past and look forward to the future and it is with this I would urge you to ask yourselves, what foundations are you laying for your future? What are you doing for your children? Are you teaching them to work hard, overcome failure and try again? Are you giving them the opportunity to understand that there is a price to pay for everything or are you going to allow them to know the price of everything and the value of nothing?