Do you think there would be a difference if we asked the young preschoolers “what do you want to do?” instead of “what do you want to be” when you grow up?I’m no child expert, but I tend to think, if our kids concentrate on the tasks or activities that make them happy and excited, and what they want to do, they’d be more fulfilled as an adult. Take for example, if the kid likes to talk a lot and speak in front of people, he or she could end up as a motivational speaker, an orator, a politician, a trainer, a teacher… the list goes on. But he won’t be thinking, should I be any of the above in the first instance; rather he’d look at his own interests first and see what job or career out in the world could fit in with his preferences.
Whereas, if the child is always focused on the label of profession, and being someone, perhaps as they grow up they lose sight of their real passions and interests. The same kid might end up doing the same job, but because he said he would be a teacher in kindergarten one day, and not because he wants to talk a lot in front of many people.
Same result. Different journey. Which one would be happier? Who knows. But then again, why do so many executives these days feel confused and lost about their job, and executive coaches always start with the questions:
What do you enjoy? What do you want to do?
No one asked me what I want to do when I was younger, and I had always just pondered what I want to be – lawyer, banker, CEO, politician, doctor? I had a Tiger Mum all right, telling me what I should be doing or what profession I should take because it would make me the most money, and so I was drilled to achieve and polish up a CV for that very purpose. I was never asked – what do you like doing? I was given piano lessons, swimming lessons, basketball lessons, dance lessons…AND I had to be the best in them all because if not I’d probably get a good spanking, or at least a few words as “you are only the captain of the team? what about the Best Player Award?” I internalized everything thinking “it’s all good for me, I enjoy them, I will do well in them”. If I complained I was miserable attending swimming lessons 3 times a week and I didn’t like the coach yelling at me, I was told that I was being ungrateful that I was given the opportunities to learn. Never was I guided to think if I was actually happy arguing about some random philosophy on whether the pen is mightier than the sword during a debate competition. I won Best Debater, so I thought I liked it…
Is this why I ended up in the rut I am going through? Perhaps not the only reason but definitely one of the culprits. Well, maybe now is not too late to think about what I want to do.
And I’m going to try to remember to ask my children what they want to do instead of what they want to be. They shouldn’t need to fit in labels and boxes.
And if I don’t do so, they need to tell me to read my own blog…