how to model success

4 Things Your Kids Need to Achieve Success

Over the past decade, I’ve returned to an instrument I gave up learning when I was very young: the piano. At a young age, my mom put my sister and me in a music school that taught us two ways of playing music: sight-reading sheet music and playing by ear. It didn’t last very long because my heart wasn’t in it. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I found my passion to play again.

While I can’t remember how to sight-read (it looks foreign to me), I retained the ability to play by ear. It was slow at first, but it was exciting to play an instrument and work through learning to play a song again. The real joy in playing is performing for my kids. They see and hear the practice, process, and work ethic needed to succeed at playing music. Seeing us model success helps our kids become successful, but there are still other things kids need to achieve success. Here are 4 of them.

1. The Spark

The path to success begins with the excitement to try something. For me, the piano revival began when I was at home by myself listening to an artist I really liked. When our kids have “the spark” or are excited to do something, we should share that spark with them. It’s wonderful when you have an energetic kickstart, but the spark can burn out fast if there isn’t someone there to keep the flame lit. Stoke their process by asking, “What do you enjoy about…?”

2. The Learning Process

The easy part of success is the spark and passion at the start. It is important to leverage the energy in the spark to the learning that must take place when understanding is lacking. The most difficult position in football is the quarterback. When a quarterback first starts playing for a team, he has to learn a new playbook and how teammates play—and learning that can be tedious. But if he doesn’t learn it, the game will turn into a collection of errors and overthinking. While learning can push our kids out of their comfort zones, the time and dedication to learning will reap benefits in the long run. As you think about how to model success to your kids, remember to be a learner yourself. Then, attend to their learning process by asking, “What were the most interesting things you learned about…?”

3. The Work

When I learned that first song on the piano, I had to listen to it many times to figure out what I was hearing. A few hours later, I was able to play the song perfectly. Our kids are told over and over that “practice makes perfect.” Truthfully, practice doesn’t build to perfection; the point of practice is progress. This is a key component in how to model success. If our kids see that practice will pay off, they’ll buy into the work. Encourage their work by asking, “Do you notice how much you are improving?”

4. The Love

When a musician shares his or her love for music with an audience, two powerful things collide: one’s passion for music and the audience’s joy in witnessing the music come to life. When kids start to see that they’re growing and changing and are being parented and nurtured to continue, it can be satisfying for years to come for them and for you. Highlight how proud you are of them by asking, “Do you know how much we love watching you succeed?”

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: Harvard Study Finds Warm Mothers Have Successful Sons.

Sound off: What are some other things our kids need to achieve success?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it takes to be successful in something?”