For our summer trip we took during this month of June, we stopped at the public library and checked out about 10 audio books for the car ride. We play them on the car CD player and also bring a portable one with headphones for the kids to share. We were listening to one of the books in the Magic Tree House Series where the characters in the book are given 4 secret words that teach on how to accomplish a goal or "get good" at something.
The words or virtues the characters uncover during the stories to find out about success in accomplishments are humility, hard work, meaning and purpose, and enthusiasm. I liked that the author included these concepts in the books and the creative ways she used to teach these words to children. I do think though, that if I had to put them in order, it would be different from the order they uncovered the words in and I also think that there is another word that is necessary to have in addition to these other four words.
If I had to list these virtues in order to teach how to achieve accomplishments, I would choose meaning and purpose as the first. Generally, a person has to believe in what they are doing. We choose to do things that are meaningful to us. That very meaning and purpose in a skill or task can give us the motivation, interest, or enthusiasm to get started and be persistent. There likely are those who do something because they were told to do it and do it to be obedient without thinking about it, and perhaps maybe those people eventually find meaning and purpose to what they are doing in some situations, after they practice and work hard. As my husband told me, he has considered working at other jobs he has heard about, but in the end stays where he is because he likes what he is doing and believes in what he is working on.
In considering the next virtue of accomplishment, I would say that enthusiasm is next. It is a result of finding meaning and purpose to a task or building skills. Once a person finds something they truly believe in it, enthusiasm comes naturally in wanting to accomplish this goal. Upon discovering that all positions on a soccer team are necessary and contribute to goals scored, a person is likely to be more excited to practice and play their position. In high school, when I had the desire to take percussion lessons, I became even more enthusiastic to practice and audition for the drum line and wind ensemble band when I realized that I had a chance at getting in to both of these. This enthusiasm or interest, greatly affects the progress we make and what lengths we are willing to go through to be successful. On the days my son decides that he is not interested in learning piano, he hardly gets anywhere in his lesson, grunting, speeding through the songs or pieces, and allowing himself to become easily frustrated. He also has no interest in learning anything from me or finding other resources to help him. On the days he is eager, he is willing to be patient with himself, sit and work hard, practice more frequently, ask me questions, and see how it would be useful to his life.
I think the next virtue following enthusiasm would be hard work. Once the interest is there, then the person can focus much better on practicing and working hard. I am much more willing to sit at the piano for extended periods of time when working on preferred pieces. I also love to be outdoors playing sports and can easily stay out there for hours assuming the weather is pleasant. Pretty straight forward...
Finally, I would say that humility is the last step usually learned. Once we start working hard, we will likely hit road blocks. Maybe we have all had moments of refusing to accept help from someone for whatever reason. Maybe it is wanting to know that we could accomplish it ourselves without help, maybe we just get frustrated in the practicing process and do not feel like talking to anyone, let alone accepting help, maybe we have a grudge against the person offering...As we know though, help is necessary often times in achieving our goals. Others with more wisdom, experience, and patience have a lot to offer to us in how to achieve something and how to be persistent in doings so. Sometimes it just takes time for us to learn this virtue of humility.
There is one quality that my husband and I both find absolutely crucial to possess along with these four words is self confidence. If a person lacks a belief in themselves and their ability to achieve anything at all, how likely is it that they would even try? If they do not like who they are or do not think themselves worthy of being anything great, would they try, participate, or practice anything? If they do not see purpose to their own life at all, would they find purpose in tasks, have enthusiasm or be willing to work hard?
As babies, enthusiasm or interest in something may be the key word that begins the process of self-confidence. Interest in reaching a toy may be what motivates a little one to start crawling and practicing with their muscles, once they are at that point of development. Hard as it is to accept sometimes, it may be failure that encourages this self-confidence. When they fail and then try again, they learn that hard work leads to success. When we as humans fail and then achieve, we learn that we can keep trying and achieve. Failure can be discouraging, but it is also an important tool in encouraging hard work and achieving this self-confidence that is significant to a person's life.
It is important that we do not skip over teaching this concept for fear of arrogance. As the author mentioned, humility is also key, but we will not learn anything from anyone if we do not first believe that we can be successful and that we are indeed, worthy of success.