The Desire for Success is Innate
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
Everyone wants to be successful; whether it is the toddler who is learning to climb the stairs, or the high school student studying hard to get a good grade, or the student who is working hard to find success in exhibiting self-control. We all want to be and feel successful. Success looks different for everyone, and everyone feels differently about it, but the end goal is the same. How we go about achieving this success and how our students and children go about achieving this success is unique.
Please bear with me because I promise that I have a point, a personal example is that I want to be successful at being healthier with diet and exercise. It is something that I want very much, but do I have the willpower and self-control to follow through in order to achieve success in this goal? Nine times out of ten I do not. I start my morning off great, wake up motivated and rearing to go, I make a healthy breakfast, I am right on track. Then, suddenly, I find myself in some conflict or problem, my toddlers refuse to get out of bed to get dressed, there is crying and defiance and I am starting to run late. Finally, once I devote all my energy to soothing big feelings and emotions, I head back to prepping for the day only to realize that it is time to go and I haven't made my healthy lunch. With no choice I grab what I can, which is unhealthy, and we head out the door. From here, my day derails me and since I already veered away from goal, I decide it best to try again tomorrow, or maybe next Monday. After all, it will be a hard week and I need more motivation, etc., etc.
Now, why do I share this story? I share it because it is one that most adults can relate to in some way or another and I wanted to create a parallel between a goal that is relatable and a goal that a child tries to achieve. They are one and the same. Their goal might be to have self-control at school, or not feel sad when they are left at school, or to follow directions, or to get a good grade. All these goals are driven by an internal desire of success, yet that desire alone isn't enough to make it happen and they get derailed, just as I did, just as we all do. They start with the best intentions, and then a friend says they aren't going to play with them, or they didn't get to say bye to their mother one last time before going in the classroom, or they thought they understood the concepts on the quiz only to see that they failed it, or there is suddenly a rumor going around about them. All of these things eat at motivation and feed frustration.
It is hard to reach our goals. If we as adults have a hard time, imagine how hard it is for our students, who do not carry with them the wisdom that our years of life have given to us. We must be aware, and mindful, of this because if it is difficult for us, it is more difficult for them. As teachers and administrators, we must learn to be flexible, compassionate, and understanding; truly believing that our students have the best intentions.
I think this is the key: believing that our students have the best intentions, and looking at the good. So often I hear assumptions of why a student behaves the way they do or why they don't do their work. I get it, it is hard, because we put our heart and soul into what we do and it hurts when it feels unappreciated, but we must stop taking things as a personal attack, and be empathetic to what THEY are going through. This is how we build relationships and trust which in turn helps us help them. This does not mean that there will not be setbacks; we all fall off every once in a while, but at least with a relationship built on empathy and nurtured by the mindset that our students want to succeed, it will be easier to help build our student's motivation up again to help them achieve the success that they crave. Once they have felt that success, they will only want more!