Opinion: Another way to learn life’s lessons: Let kids be kids


Typewriter keys.By Joanie Connell

Concerned Parent, President of ExecuStart, Inc., La Jolla

Thank you for raising the “Race to Nowhere” movie event as a front page story on Oct. 14. The stress on our youth is an extremely important issue for both today’s and tomorrow’s society. I attended the event and was surprised at the reactions of the audience. The parents blamed the schools and the schools blamed the colleges. But where do the parents fit into this?

The parents I know start signing up their children for team sports when they’re toddlers. When they find that their children don’t get enough homework, they sign them up for Kumon. The movie pointed out that the majority of parents are trying to get their children into the top 2 percent of schools. If we do the math, it doesn’t add up.

We, as parents, need to take responsibility for the pressures we are putting on our children. We need to step back and realize it’s OK to be normal, and that there are many paths to success that don’t involve attending the top colleges. We also need to realize that childhood is not to be missed! Many of life’s lessons are learned through playing, being bored, and making mistakes. We need to let them be kids and stop living vicariously through their trophies and awards.

In fact, my business partner and I have launched ExecuStart, Inc. to address the gaps in life lessons that these children are showing as they enter the workplace. We coach and develop leaders in organizations and continually find that expertise only gets them so far.

Our research and combined 40+ years of experience have shown that what really makes a difference is competence in six areas: (1) personal power, (2) integrity, (3) resilience, (4) connection with others, (5) creativity and renewal, and (6) wisdom. None of these qualities can be learned from reading a book; they must be learned by experiencing life.