One Thing For High School Grads To Let Go Of And One Thing To Reach For As Leaving The Nest

Raising Daughters | Limiting Beliefs

 

It is so important for high school grads to become aware of any limiting beliefs they have accumulated from their life experiences and to reframe them to a healthier narrative. In this episode, Dr. Tim Jordan discusses how to encourage young adults to get out of their comfort zones and stretch themselves socially and with new experiences in order to come of age and flourish.

Dr. Jordan’s previous podcast on the spiral of beliefs: https://drtimjordan.com/2020/02/beliefs-self-esteem-perspective-identity-depression-trauma-bullying/

Dr. Jordan’s previous podcast on his Dot Theory: https://drtimjordan.com/2021/05/calling-stress-young-adults-teenagers-parents-your-purpose-dot-theory/

For more great information about supporting young adults in finding their path, read Dr. Jordan’s book, Letters From My Grandfather: Timeless Wisdom For a Life Worth Living: https://www.amazon.com/Letters-Grandfather-Timeless-Wisdom-Living-ebook/dp/B07DFC9NRQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1541795483&sr=1-1&keywords=letters+from+my+grandfather

Listen to the podcast here

 

One Thing For High School Grads To Let Go Of And One Thing To Reach For As Leaving The Nest

As all of you know, I’m a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician, which means I’m a Pediatrician and MD, but I did a two-year fellowship in something called Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics a long time ago. I stopped doing my medical practice many years ago. What I do now is a lot of things, but one of the things I do is counsel girls in grade school, middle school, high school, and even college in a counseling practice. I run weekend retreats and summer camps for girls in grade school through high school. I’ve been doing that for many years, believe it or not. I have listened to lots of girls’ stories in my office, retreats, camps, and with their school programs.

I thought I would talk a little bit about some suggestions for some of your kids who might be graduating from high school and going off into the world. They may be going to college or somewhere else. I think it’s a good pausing time in their lives for them to take stock of what they have learned about themselves up until now. What are some things that they want to let go of before they move on to the next leg of their journey, and what are some things they might want to reach for also in that same vein as they go into the next leg of their journey?

Left Out

Let’s talk first about things that they might want to consider letting go. The main thing I’m going to talk about is some old limiting beliefs that they have accumulated through their childhood up until now. This episode is not just going to be valuable for parents who have a high school senior or even a college senior going off into the world in another way, but for any kid at any level.

The things I’m going to talk about in this episode, I talk about with girls all the time in my office practice and at my retreats in my camps as they’re wrestling with the challenges that they’re facing growing up. Let me give you some examples of what I mean by this. I developed, years ago in our retreats and camps, something I called my spiral of beliefs.

What I mean by that, and this is true for your sons too, but when your daughters were younger and they were these perfect little creatures, life happens to all of us. Different challenges, adversities, hurts, and all kinds of different kinds of adversities, and because of that, elicits emotions in them. They may feel hurt, sad, scared, disrespected, unloved or whatever, then they start to wonder, “Why is this happening to me?” They start to try to make sense of it in their minds. Thoughts start to pop into their heads about them, “It’s because I am blank.”

I may be giving you lots of real-life examples of girls whom I’ve had in my counseling practice. They start to wonder, “Maybe it’s because I am,” almost always faulty thinking, but it makes sense to them as they’re trying to make sense of their adversities. Over time, those thoughts end up becoming beliefs. They believe that they’re not good enough, not worthy, not deserving, unlovable and not important, etc. I don’t want them carrying those beliefs out with them as they go out into the world.

Let me give you a bunch of examples so that it can become clearer. I made up these names. Some of these are names of girls whom I know, but it is not their stories. I use their names so that when they read the episode, they get excited. One girl, whom I will call Deanna, was left out of her friend group when she was in middle school. They ditched her. These have been her best friends since grade school.

She felt excluded, left out, hurt, sad, angry, and confused. She had a whole range of normal emotions because of what happened, and then she went inside of her head as she started to wonder, “I wonder why they’re not talking to me. Why are they leaving me out? What’s going on?” The thoughts that she came up with in her private logic were, “Maybe it’s because I am weird. Maybe I’m awkward. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I am socially awkward. Maybe I’m too much. Maybe I’m too little. Maybe I’m too quiet. Maybe I’m too loud.”

These are the things that your daughters have been thinking about and ruminating about if they’ve had some struggles with friends. They worry, “Am I not pretty enough? Am I not popular enough or cool enough? Do I not fit the mold? Do I not fit in?” Those are common beliefs that a lot of your daughters in your holes have inside their heads and hearts if they’ve not taken the time to make better sense of it, which I will talk about as I end the episode.

For Deanna, her belief system was that she wasn’t good enough. She was weird and awkward. Who would want to be her friend? There must be something wrong with her. I did not want her to go off to college with that belief system in her heart because, as I think it is pretty common sense, it would affect the way she came across. It would affect the way she would be able to attract good friends if she had those beliefs about herself.

If you think little of yourself, it will affect the way you come across people and give you a hard time attracting good friends. Click To Tweet

Kinds Of Intelligence

I saw a girl several years ago, and with this next story, I have seen dozens of kids with this story where school for them is hard, for whatever reason. Some of the girls who I’ve seen where this applies have a learning disability. Maybe they have ADD or ADHD and it’s hard for them. For whatever reason, they struggle in school. Most of the girls work their butts off. They work hard, put time in, put the effort in, and then they eke out Bs and Cs, which is okay to me. They look around a lot at their friends who walk into the school building, they breathe, and they get straight As.

They barely crack the books at home. They don’t try very hard. If there’s a paper given in class, they whip it out in five minutes and these kids are struggling half-hour later. They notice all that, and then inside their heads, they start to wonder, “Am I stupid? Am I dumb?” I ask girls like that who have been struggling and who will tell me how they compare themselves unfavorably because they notice how much easier school is for their friends.

I’ll ask them, “What does that mean about you?” They’ll tell me, I think it means, “I’m not very smart. I’m dumb.” If you extend that, they’ll say, “Therefore, I’m not going to have a very good future.” Some of these girls are in grade school or middle school, and they’re already worried about having a crummy life because they’re struggling in school with school intelligence.

I’ve asked this question of audiences all over the world. I’ve asked groups of girls in middle and high school to give themselves a grade for their IQ from 0 to 100, with 0 being the lowest and 100 being the highest. I’ll say, “Give a score. What’s your IQ?” Everybody gives me a number. I’ve done this with audiences of adults and parents. Everybody gives me a number.

Once everybody has given the number, I’ll say, “You all failed the test.” In the many years I’ve been giving talks all over the place, only one time has someone passed the test. The reason is no one ever thinks to ask me, other than one time, an important question, which would be, “What kind of intelligence are you talking about?”

They assume I mean school intelligence, the ability to walk into the building, sit down, shut up, pay attention, do a lot of learning by listening, auditory learning, know it’s going to be on the test, be able to tell by what the teacher is saying, what’s going to be on the test, then be able to sit down with a multiple choice test and regurgitate it and do well.

There are some people who aren’t good at that. That’s a certain intelligence. It’s not good or bad. It just is. I’ll ask these kids, “What other kinds of intelligence are there besides that?” A lot of them looked at me at first with a quizzical look, like, “What do you mean?” I’ll say, “There are lots of different kinds of intelligence,” then we flush out things like somebody who’s good at problem-solving, has common sense, has street smarts, and good social or people skills.

Those are incredibly important kinds of intelligence. People are good with their hands and with putting things together. People who have one of those engineering minds where they can just tell how things work have intelligence when it comes to things like music, dance, creativity, original thought art, drawing, singing, and dancing. There are all kinds of intelligence that are important. We overfocus on the school intelligence to the detriment of those kids, where that’s one of their weak areas. I don’t want them to believe that they’re not smart or stupid and that they have a crummy future ahead of them, but they’re going to need to do some reframing.

Feeling Unimportant And Unlovable

A couple more examples of some spiral beliefs I’ve had with girls along the way. One of the girls who I saw a few years ago felt like she had lost her mom. After her parents got divorced, her mom remarried pretty quickly. She started spending a lot of time with her new family. She was in middle school. She had two step-siblings. She got to spend less and less time with her mom. She even remembered sitting on the front stoop of her house one time. Her mom was supposed to pick her up after school on a Friday afternoon at 4:30.

She was going to spend the weekend with her mom and her stepfamily. She was excited because she hadn’t seen her mom very much in the past several months. She’s sitting outside. She said, “With my little pink suitcase waiting and 4:30 came by, 4:45, 5:00, 5:15,” and then she started to realize she forgot. Her mom forgot that she was supposed to spend the weekend with her.

This little girl was crushed. What she started to believe about herself was, “Maybe I’m not very important. I’m less important than my mom’s new family. Maybe I’m not very lovable. What’s wrong with me that my mom would not want to spend time with me?” Those are some of the beliefs that she started to accumulate in her spiral of beliefs.

I saw a girl several years ago in one of my retreats. Her parents got separated when she was in early middle school, maybe sixth grade. She had a younger sister as well. Her dad moved to New York and he very quickly got a girlfriend. He was trying to fly home once a month and spend the weekend with his daughters. Once he got his new girlfriend, that became once every month and a half, once every two months and started to spread out. His girlfriend moved in, and they got pregnant, and then they had a baby.

When this girl got to go to where her dad was living, the bedroom that she had stayed in with her sister was now being used by the new baby. The two girls were down in the basement, in this makeshift bedroom. She was only seeing her dad about every two months. She went inside her head like, “Why won’t my dad call? Why doesn’t he remember to call me? Why doesn’t he want to see me? Why am I getting to see him every so often?” What she decided about herself was like the last one, “Maybe my dad doesn’t love me. Did I do something wrong? His new family is more important than me.” The biggest one was, “My dad doesn’t love me and therefore, I’m unlovable.”

I saw a girl one time who had a tough childhood. When she was little, around two, her parents got separated and then finally divorced. Her dad had been abusive to her mom. She had witnessed some domestic violence when she was a little girl. I think she was maybe three when her parents finally split. Once her dad left, he rarely saw her. That was a big hole in her life. Her mom became physically abusive. She would spank her, hit her with a belt, and it was mean stuff. She described these scenes, and the mom corroborated them. They were awful.

Here’s this girl who doesn’t have a dad in her life and whose dad ditched her. She’s got a mom who’s abusive to her. She started to get lots of emotions. She felt angry, hurt, controlled, sad, lonely, unwanted, and unloved. This girl had a fiery spirit. She did not like to give in to people. She did not like to be overpowered. Her mom used to lay her down on the bed and she’d make her pull her pants down and she would threaten to spank her with a belt. If this girl moved an inch, she would get a double. If she moved again, she would get it again. If she cried out, she would get it again. This girl would stick out that lower lip like, “Hit me with your best shot.” She got a lot of abuse in that house.

She started to wonder, “I’m a bad kid. I never do anything. My mom doesn’t love me. My dad obviously doesn’t love me. He left me so there must be something wrong with me. I think I’m crazy because I’ve got all these crazy people around me and my mom is hitting me and my dad has left me. I have all these intense emotions I don’t know what to do with.” She started doing some cutting. She started smoking pot when she was in seventh grade, and then she got caught with that. She was sent to a residential place. Trouble.

“I’m this troubled, bad, disappointment kid. It’s my fault.” She blamed herself for all of that. She felt ashamed of her family. Think about what that girl was carrying around with her in her spiral of beliefs. She then started to wonder, “Who would want to be my friend? I’m such an awful person. I’m ashamed of myself. I’m a bad kid. All I do is make mistakes, get in trouble and disappoint people. Who would want to be my friend? Who would ever want to date me? Even my dad, who was supposed to love me, left me.” She had huge trust issues as well from all of that, as you can imagine.

I’ll give you a couple more examples. Another girl who I saw several years ago. She was adopted when she was a baby from another country, a very impoverished country. Her mom had four kids under five, living in very poor conditions. She put two of the four kids up for adoption, including the girl whom I had met. She kept two of the kids with her. When I saw her, she was in early high school. She started wondering about her mom and her family. She had never been able to be in touch with them. She started wondering about, “I wonder why my mom gave me up.”

She had heard that her mom kept two of the kids and wondered, “Why did she keep those two of my siblings? Why did she let me and my other sibling go? Maybe there was something wrong with me as a baby. Was I a bad baby? Was I ugly? Was there something wrong with me? Was I unlovable? Is that why she gave up on me?” She had been carrying those feelings around with her for a long time. She wanted some answers.

One of the ways she got some answers was she did a service trip later in high school to the country that she was from, and she got a chance to do some service work in a small little village, like the one she could have grown up in. She saw what would’ve become of her if she had stayed, which gave her a couple of things. It gave her a whole plethora. She had so many emotions from that trip. She came in to see me because she needed some help putting it all together. There were many conflicting emotions about gratitude and happiness, as well as sadness, despair, wondering, and questioning. She still was carrying around with her this sense of, “There must have been something wrong with me. Otherwise, my mom would’ve kept me like she had my other two siblings.”

Two other quick ones. One of them was a girl and I’ll call her Maggie. She had a younger brother who had autism. He was a kid who was very hypersensitive and he would lose it. All his life, major temper tantrums as a little kid and those temper tantrums did not go away. It came to the point where when she was in high school, she would get called down to the office to come quiet her brother down. She felt responsible for him her whole life. Her parents were exhausted trying to take care of him. As he got into the teen years, he started getting more violent. There were several times when they had to call the police to come calm him down.

He went to some residential homes for a couple of different three-month stints because he was out of control. Some of the thoughts that came up in this girl’s head were, “My brother’s needs are more important than mine. Eventually, maybe I shouldn’t even have needs.” She started to develop a belief system through her spiral beliefs that said, “Other people’s feelings are more important than mine. I should put other people’s needs before mine. I shouldn’t even have needs.” This girl was having a very hard time taking care of herself because she always put herself last.

She was an incredible kid. A lot of these kids who grew up with siblings like that end up being very mature and responsible. They grew up fast. Sometimes, we don’t know support about, “What about me?” All those kinds of kids will have that question in their minds, “What about me? What about my feelings? What about my needs?”

They oftentimes don’t express those because they see that their parents are on edge. Their parents have so much going on. They’re stressed out that they don’t want to add one more thing to their parents’ plates, so they hold onto it and they suffer. Oftentimes, they look good on the outside because they’re high achievers and they’re mature. They’re the kind of kid who becomes their friend’s counselors. Sometimes, they’re the ones who their friends call mom because they’re the ones who take care of their friends, who are barfing and getting drunk on the weekends.

On the outside, they look good. I said to a girl, “I see how people would probably see you as this beautiful swan swimming on the top of the water in this pretty pond. People saying, ‘What a beautiful swan,’ but what they don’t see underneath the water is your feet paddling like crazy and emotions inside of you that are paddling like crazy.’” I’ve said that several times to girls, and they burst out into tears, saying, “Somebody finally sees my pain.” You can imagine what those belief systems might do to somebody if they carry those with them out into the world.

Raising Daughters | Limiting Beliefs

One last. One girl I saw was tall, a basketball player. She was 5’11. Most of her friends were way shorter than her and they were way thinner than her. This girl was an athlete. She wasn’t overweight. She was a muscular, big girl. In her mind, the boys would always go for her friends before her when they were out at parties and things because they were smaller, cuter, and prettier.

Therefore, the thoughts that came up in her head were, “I’m ugly. I’m the ugly duckling. I’m not very attractive because the boys don’t pay much attention to me. They pay attention to my friends who obviously are way prettier and more attractive than me.” That was very discouraging for her until her senior year. During her spring break, she went on vacation with a bunch of kids from her class, including those thin, pretty, attractive girls.

They were out one night. These were seniors in high school. They were at some club and a boy who was a freshman in college was with his buddies from college on spring break started dancing and he was attracted to her. They hung out for a couple of nights. They talked and hit it off. She said something at one point to him about how she’d never felt very attractive because boys thought she was too tall. He was 6’1. He was a college athlete and a freshman in college. He said to her, “I’ve always liked girls who are tall.” These light bulbs went off in her head like, “What? A boy is okay with a tall girl?”

It’s one thing for her parents, for me and for people to say, “You’re fine. It is not about you. It’s about those goofy high school boys. You’re going to find somebody.” High school boys will be intimidated by a taller girl, especially a girl like her who is uber mature. She’s such a cool, grounded, mature kid. Of course, some goofy 17-year-old boy’s going to have a hard time with you. It’s another thing for her to embrace that.

I do not want girls to need validation from boys to feel okay about themselves. In this case, there’s a breath of fresh air for her. It’s okay to get some validation from a boy who says, “I think you’re attractive.” I don’t want girls dependent upon that, but for this girl, it was beautiful because it helped her to reframe her beliefs about herself.

Girls must never seek validation from boys to feel okay about themselves. Click To Tweet

Transition Points

Anytime in your life is a good time to start reframing old experiences and old belief systems. At those transition points, like leaving home after high school and going off to college or someplace, that’s a good time to do that. Before you leave home for college, take some quiet, reflective time to say, “What have I started to believe about myself along the way?” Do a good introspection about, “What are some of the beliefs I’ve accumulated?”

I have girls do that in some of my retreating camps. It’s a good exercise for them to become aware. Awareness is important, awareness of what you’ve picked up, and then start to think about, “Is it true that my friends ditched me in middle school because I’m an idiot, awkward, and not good enough?” Was it true for that girl to believe that since the boys didn’t date her, that was because she was ugly and unattractive, even though she was because she was tall and mature?

Is it true that because your parents had much energy around a sibling with autism, that meant that your needs are not important, other people’s needs are more important than yours and that you shouldn’t even have needs? Of course not. None of those beliefs that those girls were thinking about and accumulating are true. It makes sense to me why they might feel true, but they’re not. It’s a good time to sit back and say, “What is the moral of those stories? What do I want to take from those stories?”

The girl who had an autistic sibling, what she could have said was, “My parents were on the edge and sometimes my brother had to take precedence because of all those problems. That doesn’t mean that my needs aren’t important. It meant though that I needed to ask for what I needed sometimes if I ever felt left out. It meant that I might need to find or get my needs met with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other adults. It didn’t have to mean that I shouldn’t have needs. That’s important for me to ask for what I need, not just now, but throughout my whole life.”

That girl who was having a hard time in school and thought she was stupid and she was going to have a crummy future, what it meant for her that she was working her butt off to get C’s was some kinds of school intelligence were hard for her. She had some learning disabilities. What that meant was that during those school years, it was going to be harder and she was not going to “look good,” but it did not mean she was dumb or stupid.

It did not mean she was going to have a crummy future. I told her she needed to start looking for stories. I gave her some examples of lots of people who are very successful in this world, who have dyslexia, who struggled in school, who dropped out of school for various reasons, who did not get a college education, etc.

They did fine and started appreciating all their other intelligence, which is far more important in the real world than your ability to sit down, shut up, listen, and regurgitate onto a multiple choice test, to have good people skills, problem-solving skills, and original thought and creativity. Those are such important intelligences in the real world. Most of the girls I see have lots of those and have strong other intelligence that they’re not giving themselves credit for.

A girl who was adopted, it doesn’t mean that she was not lovable and there’s something wrong with her. It meant her mom wanted to have a better life. She couldn’t take care of four kids under the age of five in poverty. It was a way for her to love her daughter, to allow her to go and have a better life for herself. Whatever your kids’ stories are, they might need to sit back and say, “This is what I’ve believed up until now. Is that the truth? Is that why I want to carry with me for the rest of my life?”

Some of the things you’ve learned to believe about yourself may be healthy and maybe encouraging, but some of them are probably limiting beliefs. Those are the ones that all of your kids need to clean up, become aware of, rethink, reframe, and change the narrative. Remind your daughters they’re always in charge of their story. They’re not in charge of what happens to them.

A lot of those times, all those examples I gave you, those kids didn’t choose to have an abusive mother, a sibling with autism, to be adopted or any of those things. They didn’t choose that, but they can choose to decide what they’re going to believe about it and what they’re going to take with them when they go off to college. It’s important for them to let go of any limiting beliefs and establish some more healthy ones.

Connecting The Dots

Let me spend a few minutes now talking about a few things you may encourage your kids to reach for as they leave the nest and go off into the world. I tell girls all the time in my counseling practice that it’s such an opportunity for them if they go to college or if they do anything, they join the service or whatever. It’s such an opportunity for them to reinvent themselves, and try new things. When I was in high school, I played a lot of sports. I played hockey, ice hockey, and soccer during my first year in high school. I played football all four years. I did a lot of things that were sports-related.

When I went to college, I decided I wanted to stretch a little bit. In my first 2 years of college, I was in 3 plays. I had some vague thoughts like, “Maybe I wanted to be an actor someday.” I was in three plays and it was fun. It was a whole different kind of people. I became a theater kid for two years in college. That was one of the ways in college that I stretched myself. I would encourage your daughters and sons when they go off to school to not just recreate high school. One of my concerns about some kids who go to state schools in their own state where they grew up is that half their high school goes there.

It’s not wrong or bad. It’s just that they have an opportunity to go there. Even if there are a lot of people from their high school, they can go there and start hanging out with different kinds of people. They don’t have to be in the same old club as in high school. It’s healthy for them to diversify and stretch themselves by finding new friends from different places and different kinds of people. There’s more diversity in colleges than in high school to push themselves to learn how to be with different kinds of people, relate, and find out what they have in common.

High school graduates must diversify and stretch themselves by finding new friends from different places. Click To Tweet

Try new activities. There’s a young woman I’ve known since about 6th grade. I saw her in my counseling practice and she came to some of my retreats and things. She was awesome. She was a powerhouse, incredibly powerful. She was one of those free spirits who liked to try things and liked to take risks. She was a tough kid to parent when she was younger, but when she went to college, one of the things that she did to stretch herself was she joined a rock climbing club. This club, on the weekends, would go out into the woods with rapelling gear and they wouldn’t just rappel down little cliffs. They were doing the kind where you have to hammer, the things, have the carabiners and you had people above you and below you who were counting on you.

She did the hardcore stuff and she loved it. She loved the adventure of it. She loved the risk-taking, but she also learned to love working on a team in that way and leading people in that way. It was an incredible experience for her, but she had not had it in high school. It was an incredible way for her to use all that spirit in a very positive way. Now, she owns her own company. She’s a psychologist. She has seven therapists working under her in her company. She keeps expanding.

I would encourage your kids to start having some new experiences. I talked to you before about My Dot Theory. It involves those connect-the-dot drawings that a lot of us had done as kids. You see a picture that has a number of dots, and you can’t tell what it is until you start connecting the dots. Once you’ve connected enough of them, a picture would start to emerge and eventually, after you’d connected all the dots, “It was a clown. It was Santa Claus. It was a Christmas tree,” or whatever it was. My metaphor is that their job as young people is not to know the final picture of their life, to know what they’re going to be doing when they’re 50, not to know what they’re calling and all that stuff is when they’re 15, 16, 18, or 24.

Their job is to be open to dots, experiences across their path they feel drawn to, things that they’re drawn to because it seems like fun because, “I have the urge to do that. It seems interesting. I’ve always wanted to do that,” for whatever your reasons are to do those experiences. It’s like that rock climbing club that one girl did, like that service trip that that girl took as a senior in high school. Those are dots.

If we start to accumulate those kinds of experiences without doing them someday I want to, but at this moment, it seems like the right thing to do. What happens in our lives is that those dots start to connect themselves. Those experiences start to connect, and eventually, a picture of your life starts to emerge. Your purpose, your calling, and your life.

The more that your kids, when they leave the nest, they can start accumulating more experiences, different kinds of experiences that don’t seem to connect, but that eventually they’ll be old enough to look back and go, “It’s interesting how these things start to connect. Now I see the pattern. I see now how it’s all connected.” They don’t need to see that when they’re 18 or 21. Trust that those dots will connect for them. The picture of their life will start to unfold for them.

Let me tell you a couple of quick stories about some people who experienced some dots when they were in college and how it changed their lives. There was one woman named Munazza Alam. In college, she did a field trip to this national observatory. It was high on a mountaintop in Arizona’s Sonoran desert.

She was from New York City. She had never seen anything like this, but she had this inkling that it would be interesting. She had some interest in Geology. When she went out there into this desert, she said she had never seen a night sky like that. She was blown away by the stars all she could see. She said, “I was hooked.” It inspired her to become an astronomer on a field trip dot.

Stephanie Grocke studied Geology in college. She developed slowly but surely an interest in rocks and volcanoes. A professor encouraged her to do a summer program in Hawaii to study an active volcano in Kīlauea. She said that when she went through that summer during this internship, she saw a volcano erupting. She said, “It changed my life.” She decided to become a volcanologist, studying volcanoes, all from a dot, trying something different.

There are lots of people and biographies that your daughters and sons could read about how people found their way, calling, and path. A lot of times, it’s because they grabbed onto a dot that crossed their path and that opened up an interest in them, an aptitude that led to another dot and another, then all of a sudden, our lives unfold for us.

Ideal Employee

Most people who employ young people out of college tell me that they don’t care about somebody’s GPA. They don’t care where they go to college. That’s not that important to them. These are people I met all over the world who own and run big, successful companies. Let me tell you what they say they’re looking for in young people, almost always number one is people skills. Can they look you in the eye? Can they collaborate? Can they work on a team?

They’re looking for people who can grab onto an interest and have experienced grabbing onto their own autonomous interest and racing with it, going with it, and being fully engaged in something. It didn’t have to be school. Most of the time, it wasn’t school. It could have been sports, music, writing a play or writing a book, and they started their own business when they were in high school.

They love seeing people who grab onto something on their own and run with it. They also want people who are curious learners, not like school learners, but people who like to learn, who are interested learners because when they get done with their education and training at whatever level, and they go out into the real world with a job, they’re going to have to relearn almost everything because educational fields are pretty behind.

They say, “I got to train them anyway. I need people who are trainable and people who like to learn.” Almost every field is now expanding and changing quickly. They need to keep learning because everything is changing. They want people who are creative and have original thoughts. The more your kids can remind or learn of what’s important in life, things like street smarts per pursuing, things that you love to do on your own, and having the determination to overcome obstacles and see things through and not give up, having a growth mindset, being determined.

All those kinds of things are important. It’s nice if your kids can understand that college is not supposed to be about sitting in a library day and night trying to get a 4.0 GPA. It’s not wrong to get a 4.0 GPA, but there is so much more to college than that. You’re also supposed to grow up and come of age. You are supposed to learn to think more broadly and to hang with people in a more diverse, broad sense. Learn how to cope with the normal ups and downs of life. You’re not going to do that sitting in a library all night. It’s not wrong to study, but there’s way more than that. There’s more to you than just developing a GPA.

It’s also developing yourself, rethinking everything, your values, what you believe and thinking through, “What do I want? What’s important to me? Who am I? How might I fit in this world?” As you keep accumulating dots, “What is that telling me up until now? What might that be pointing me towards?” Please encourage your kids to diversify, reinvent themselves, and start discovering new things about themselves in college.

Trying And Learning

Let go of any old limiting beliefs that might be holding them back now and or in the future. Become aware of those old beliefs, understand why they may have believed that, reframe them, and change the narrative. Be in charge of that story and make sure that they leave with healthy thoughts and beliefs about who they are and what happened to them.

Take that time when you leave the nest to try new things. Grab onto any dot that crosses your path that you’re drawn to and trust that your life will unfold for you. Be open to new people, situations, experiences, and cultures. Try new things. It’s such a fun, an opportune time in your life to try new things. When they’re 18 or 19, most people aren’t married and don’t have four kids. You have the chance to try stuff.

I have one of my campers who is spending four months out in the ocean on a sailboat. It’s like a semester at sea, and she’s learning how to be in the ocean. She’s interested in marine biology. What a great dot. She may not end up being a marine biologist, but it doesn’t matter. She’s learning so much about herself. One of my sons graduated from college and did a two-year with Teach for America. He enjoyed the kids, but he was tired and needed a break. He bought a backpack, a tent, and a ukulele, and he bought a ticket to New Zealand, took off, and didn’t know anybody there.

He was gone for 22 months. It’s a long time. It was his walkabout. He went all over New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia. He worked along the way to save more money, and then he traveled some more. He’d work a little bit, save money, and travel some more. I remember some people wondering about us, and he even wondered about this himself along the way sometimes, “Shouldn’t I be back home doing a normal thing and getting a job now? Am I being like a lazy bum?” People would say, “He’s been gone a long time. Don’t you think he should come back and start getting a real job?”

We’re like, “Are you kidding me? He’s having not just the time of his life. He’s having the education of his life. He’s learning much about being self-sufficient, taking care of himself, and having no itinerary. He takes care of everything for himself all day long, every day. He’s learning to fly by the seat of his pants and to trust himself. He’s going to all these different cultures and learning about those cultures and thus learning more about himself.”

Parents must encourage their kids to be open to different experiences along the way. Teach them how to let go and find out the things you must reach out to. Click To Tweet

Closing Words

Encourage your kids to be open to those sorts of experiences along the way. Some things to let go of, some things to reach out towards as they’re at this fork in the road, as they’re graduating from high school or at any point in their path. High school graduation time is a good time to take stock of where they’ve come from and where they’re going, at least at this point in their life.

Good luck to your high school grads. I hope they make some good choices about where they’re going and what they’re doing on this next part of their journey or your parenting journey. I’ll be back here with a brand new episode on another topic. I appreciate you stopping by, and I will see you back here. Thank you so much for being here.

 

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