What Does Success Look Like To You?

A few weeks ago, I had given my younger daughter the task of learning some of her time tables that she had been struggling with. She was fine remembering them in order, but just seemed to struggle with remembering them randomly and this was something that she needed to learn.

I, therefore, decided to make this a daily routine for her to practice these every day after school until she became competent at it. Each day, when I returned from work, we would practise together and sometimes she would practice with her dad.

At the weekend, she had apparently been practicing on her own. She came to me with bright eyes and beaming with excitement, “mama! I get it now, test me!”. It was morning and I was so tired! With sleepy eyes, I sat up and listened as she randomly blurted out the times table of one of the numbers I had asked her to learn.

In the moment I told her well-done but what happened to the other numbers I asked her to practice? “Toni go and practice the other numbers and come back. You need to know all of them, not just this one number”.
She stared at me with disappointment in her eyes, she responded.

“Mummy!!! Is that all you’re going to say! I worked so hard to learn this one and you’re not even proud of me?!”

That was the oops moment for me where I knew that she was right, and I had to battle with my pride on whether to admit to her that she had made a good point and I was wrong. My pride had to give in. The lesson here was for me, I was measuring success for her completing the whole tasks rather than celebrating her progress.

Very quickly, I apologized and had to do a whole speech on how proud I was of her for making such a huge progress. I had to mean it as Toni doesn’t do very well with people patronizing her.

She was happy with the talk and looked at me for reassurance “Are you sure that you are proud of me mama?!

Even when you don’t get all of your times table, I am still proud of you

“Always”, I said, “no matter what. Even when you don’t get all of your times table, I am still proud of you!”

She smiled and left. And there it was, my 7-year-old had just taught me a valuable life lesson; how not to measure success.

It’s amazing how my children teach me about life every day. I just learned from my 7-year old that true success is in the journey as much as the end goal and every milestone should be celebrated. This is something I should already know, but I needed to be reminded.

Recently, I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself to meet some life goals I had set for myself but so much had been going on in my life that just meant I had to abandon some of these plans. I was feeling quite deflated about it and in the process was forgetting to celebrate the everyday wins and failures. The roles these played in bringing the bigger picture together cannot be underestimated.

True success is learning to live authentically true to yourself, not measuring your path with that of the next person; it is embracing the good and the bad, learning from our life experiences, and adapting to change. It is not always an easy process especially when we either put a time limit on the goal or there is a time limit that comes with it.

Growth should be celebrated however small even when we may sometimes go past the time limit that is set. Acknowledging the progress we have made, gives us the opportunity to reflect and take stock on where we are in the journey or process, what needs to change, and let go of what is not working or the things we have no control over.

The most important lesson Toni taught me is that growth or progress that is nourished by encouragement produces the willingness to keep going. The reality is that sometimes you have to remember to be your own biggest cheerleader because people around you may not always see how far you have come. They may be aware of your end goal, but not the process of getting there. Notwithstanding, having a tribe of people who will cheer you on is always a bonus and sometimes, a priceless gift.

“Encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them”.

– Ladybird Johnson.

As a parent, I pray to always be that to my children. They are God’s gift to me, and nurturing them into their purpose “whatever that may be or look like” is my role as a parent. To always remember to say “Well done” and “I am proud of you” even when I cannot see the milestone achievements.

“Encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them”. – Ladybird Johnson.

How are you measuring success? How are you teaching your children to do this too? We are all in the process of unlearning and relearning and there lies the decisions we make to be better each day. If you enjoyed reading this, please like, share and comment below; I enjoy reading these comments very much.


5 thoughts on “What Does Success Look Like To You?”

  1. Nice one Pam! But how do you trail the path carefully to not let little praises become an opening for lack of striving or pushing the boundaries of excellence as to be the best version you can be?

    1. That’s the balance we need to aim for with plenty wisdom and patience. It’s hard but I think knowing the child’s ability helps to gauge when they are making a genuine effort and when they can’t be bothered. It’s good to encourage our children but at the same time we can’t allow room for complacency. Implementing The carrot and stick approach? Every child is different. Some thrive on praise and some see praise as a reason to just chill.

  2. Reading through the post, one question kept tugging and as I was about to type, I noticed another member already asked something similar, and of course your response puts everything into better perspective.
    My take home here is “plenty of wisdom and patience”.
    Thanks for sharing.

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