• David Unger PhD

Alphabet Series - S is for Success


I have worked in schools much of my professional life and learned a lot of things along the way. I want to share the single most important thing I have learned. It has to do with success.


Success means different things to us all. For some it means making a lot of money, others want close friendships and others want a sense of mastery. For this post,I want to write about parents wanting their children to be successful, but I think you can easily extract the lesson to apply to your own life and circumstances.


Pretty much everyone wants to be successful one way or another. Parents want their kids to be successful and kids want to be successful. Parents want to be successful and for the most part kids want their parents to be successful. I say for the most part because sometimes success in the world can keep parents away from having more time with their children. Most kids would prefer having their parents around more, unless the parents are looking over their children's shoulders too much. In that case, kids wish their parents were more successful someplace else so they could get a break at home.


I was lucky enough these last few years to have a supervisor, Peggy Procter, who is an exceptional teacher. Mostly she taught by example. Peggy is an extremely dedicated educator and puts a lot of time and energy into helping students learn and grow. When I first started working with her I would complain to her that I now was working harder than I ever had. Her enthusiasm and dedication awakened my own and I accompanied my complaint with the observation that I was liking and valuing my work more than I ever had. That made us both happy. What she taught me had to do with enthusiasm and a love of what you were doing. I don't always feel that way about my endeavors but I am endeavoring to embrace it more.


As much as her joyful engagement sparked my own, that was not the most important thing she taught me. She taught me one simple truth about being an educator (and I would add, parent and adult). She taught me you wanted to provide opportunities for success. You know as well as I, that if you do something and feel successful, you are more likely to want to do it again. If you do something and fail, it is harder to mount the energy to continue. Of course, we all fumble and fail and need to learn to pick ourselves up and keep trying. In the therapy world they say you take your mis-take and do a re-take. It is a critical life skill to be able to learn how to take it on the chin and not be knocked out.


Yet, as important as it is to learn to overcome adversity, it is also critical to learn how to build on success so you are more confident going forward. If you throw a basketball at the hoop and it goes in, you are not only more likely to want to do it again, but you are also more likely to make it. Success breeds confidence. Once you shoot and miss you lose a bit of your confidence. That loss can cause you to be a little more uncomfortable the next time out and that discomfort can throw you off just enough so that you miss the shot.


As you go through your life, you need to learn to fail and make mistakes and persevere. You also need to create small wins that allow you or your students/children/self to feel good and be more eager to step forward. As Peggy taught me, you want to provide ongoing opportunities for success.


#Success #Parenting

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