Throughout his career in consulting, education, and family life, Scott Olson has uncovered different techniques and strategies to help kids, students, and athletes take on and overcome their own challenges without simply being handed what they need to succeed (even if that means things might get a bit messy).
I was in a very familiar position, prone, on the couch, with the TV in front of me and the remote close by.
In other words, extremely comfortable and just on the edge of drifting off. It was at this time that my four-year- old daughter, Kamryn, came into the room and asked “Dad…can you make me a sammich?”
Times like this are where sheer genius is born. “Make your own sammich, I responded, “You’ve watched mommy when she’s made them for you”. Obviously I wasn’t in the running for “Father of the Year”.
She went out as I went back to that state that exists just between consciousness and drool. About 15 minutes later (I guessed) Kamryn appeared with what looked like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with a bite missing) in her hand. “Daddy, I made my own sammich,” she trumpeted, with jelly dripping down her shirt. “Way to go, Kam!” I high-fived her. She beamed, basking in the glow of accomplishment.
About two hours later, Mom came home and Kamryn rushed to meet her at the door.
“Mommy…Mommy, guess what? I made my own sammich!”
Lynette (that would be Mom) shot a look at me that all wives were familiar with towards their husbands. I could read her mind. “You lazy…” I could fill in the rest by heart. A quick thought hit her and she went to the kitchen. That thought must have rebounded over to me because I made a quick instinctive move to follow. The sight was as expected; an artistic work of peanut butter, jelly, mashed bread, knife and still opened jars. Lynette saw a mess while I saw a still life entitled “My Creation”.
Another look came my way and I retreated sheepishly saying, “But she made her sammich. Look at her”. The smile was amplified on Kamryn’s face.
I took the heat, but that isn’t why I am writing this. I am blogging this episode because so many parents today are robbing their children of that “basking in the glow of accomplishment” state. They are so busy in clearing the path for their children that they eliminate many of the challenges. Growth and confidence come because of these small victories over challenges, no matter where they spring from (kudos to lazy dads everywhere).
One of my students later listened to this story in class. At the end of the school year, she wrote me a very appreciative letter on what the class meant to her. She finished by saying proudly “…and I made my own sammich!” This time I beamed.
For more stories and thoughts from Scott Olson, be sure to check out one of his motivational speaking events, and stay tuned for his new book!