I often speak on developing kids passions and strengths. As an author of a book on discovering student strengths and the founder of a 21st century high school program called The Global Strengths Program, I hear all kinds of push back on the idea of following a child’s passions.
And it baffles me every time.
Recently, a parent raised his hand at a talk and said in a irritated voice: “What if my kid only likes to surf all day, am I supposed to encourage THAT?!” I’m not sure he liked my answer, but I told him, yes. I was clear that even if he didn’t encourage this, the child would still be drawn to this activity. The advice I gave was for him to help the child figure out exactly what it is he loves about surfing and find ways to reapply that passion into other areas. Furthermore, I told him that in the meantime, he should encourage his son’s research on the design and development of a unique and quality surfboard. (I think there’s money in that,) Or identify some problem in the sport: be it with the gear, the clothing, the beaches, the public image– and work to solve that problem with a new invention or forming a plan to solve the problem. I went on for a long time pointing out how this passion could transformed into a lifelong gig. Isn’t that how most things begin?
Follow the child, follow the strengths, ignite the passion, build a life.