My wife Dee and I have a new show called the WV Podcast. It is a show about the great state of WV and the stories of the amazing people who make it such a great place to live. Let’s tear down the negative hillbilly stereotype assigned to us by the national media. Let’s tell our own story. You can find the show at wvpodcast.com.
Stephen Hawking, Celebrated Physicist
“In my school, the brightest boys did math and physics, the less bright did physics and chemistry, and the least bright did biology. I wanted to do math and physics, but my father made me do chemistry because he thought there would be no jobs for mathematicians.”
We have only their best interests in mind. We feed and clothe them, help to heal them when they get hurt, correct them when they stray from the moral code, and try our best to set them on the right path to respectable independence. But sometimes, we make mistakes. In this case, Stephen Hawking’s father was mistaken about something.
We as parents set the framework for a successful life for our children, but we make one of our biggest mistakes when we attempt to choose for them what they allowed to be interested in for a vocation.
When I was young the worst nightmare for a parent was to be told that their son or daughter wanted to join a rock band and go on the road. After the 60’s Mom and Dad had all the pictures they needed for where that would lead. Stories of the wild life and early deaths of the famous were enough to scare any parent into locking up their kids until they escaped or reached age 30.
While many parents are just attempting to mold their child into what they wished they had become, most are just trying to avoid really bad things happening to their offspring.
My parents had an interesting approach to this problem. There were 5 boys in the family and no girls. We were interested in music early. Instead of this being a red flag and scaring them half to death, they allowed us to do music by funneling it through the church we attended. For 20 years we sang and traveled in our area and surrounding states. When we reached our teens, and began to want to take our music to the next level, they encouraged us to do so, and supported our efforts.
Instead of music being a menace to us, we were guided and allowed to flourish. In fact, we were so busy and having so much fun with our work as church musicians and traveling with our family group that we didn’t have time to get into any of the scary to parents things that were normally associated with bands.
You knew there was a moral to the story, and here it is: Guide your children in all the good things they need, to be honest and industrious and willing to help others. The other thing to do is to watch and find out what THEY are clearly interested in. Encourage them to develop their talents and funnel them into productive paths instead of tying them down to only what the previous generation thought was the only vocations that were respectable.
If you hold them in bondage to your own ambitions, you may just lose them when they finally break free. The will do what they always wanted to do anyway, and will be poorly prepared for the pitfalls along the way. You will then spend the rest of your life wondering how much of the trouble they get into is your fault.
“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
Yo-Yo Ma, Famous Cellist
“Practicing is not only playing your instrument, either by yourself or rehearsing with others – it also includes imagining yourself practicing. Your brain forms the same neural connections and muscle memory whether you are imagining the task or actually doing it.”
I am not a golfer. I know many of you just lost a lot of respect for me with that admission, but it’s the truth. I have only played golf a couple times while on vacation with friends, and had a great time because of who I was with, but not necessarily because I got a good score.
Before going on vacation, I got my hands on some golf magazines and even borrowed a book from someone I worked with and studied them to see what I was going to need to do. I never practiced golf physically at all before we went, and all I had was my mental preparation. Just before each round, we got a bucket at the driving range and I asked some questions from my more experienced friends and got a reasonable swing, but with only moderate distance.
Many golf courses in our area have some really interesting terrain due the the mountainous nature of our state. There was one particular hole I heard about long before we got there and was intimidated even more when we arrived. The dreaded hole #8.
This hole wasn’t extremely long, but had a huge ravine sloping from right to left. It was level with the hole at the top, but was about 50 feet down in a steady slope. If you didn’t make it to the green, you had to take your second shot from 50 feet below grade no matter what you did.
Watching my friends plan their second shot before taking their first one, I made the same mistake, and was down for the count the first time. The next day was different. Knowing what was coming, I did some mental preparation and all day long envisioned a flat surface all the way across from the tee to the hole. I took my swing like the book said and didn’t realize how well it was going until all my friends started yelling.
I looked up in time to see the ball hit the green and head straight for the hole. It bobbled around the hole and stopped 18 inches on the other side. A simple putt and I birdied the hole.
For a person who had never golfed before this is an incredible shot. I didn’t do nearly so well on the other holes but I didn’t do the same mental preparation for them. There is nothing mystical or supernatural about this concept. Mental practice and preparation makes your mind much more ready for a challenge and banishes the fear you would normally feel. That fear hurts your performance more than you can know.
There is an excellent article at LifeHacker.com called “A Better Way To Practice. Check it out. A link will included in the show notes for Episode 39.