Society plays a significant role in human development. Much of what we learn comes from our communities, for better or for worse. When talking about “success,” the definition society teaches us is becoming more and more disconnected from true success. People sacrifice their ethics, personal values, and the idea of happiness to pursue success, yet few are closer to it. We follow like sheep along a pathway of ever-increasing demands, sacrifices, and stress. Is there any wonder that the self-help industry is booming?

In the article The 7 Biggest Lies I Had to Unlearn to Be Successful, the author highlights how brainwashed we are concerning the myths of success. One of these well-known myths is the correlation between doing well at school and success in life. As important as school is, there are many pathways to success.   

For the next generation’s sake, it’s becoming increasingly evident that we must reconsider our society’s current definition for success. Today’s youth are experiencing increased levels of anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness due to the overwhelming pressure of becoming “successful.”

How could we, instead, teach kids a healthy version of success? 

For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life. Let them be the only judge; not your reputation, not your wealth, not your standing in the community, not the decorations on your lapel. If you do not feel ashamed, you are successful. All other definitions of success are modern constructions; fragile modern constructions.” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Teaching this to kids would mean less about their grade average (GPA) and more to do with their courage and willingness to step into possible failure (another word for learning). It could be about their social skills, willingness to adapt, work ethics, and willingness to learn new things. It could be about their desire to get back up and persevere despite the challenges they may face.

This type of real-life education could radically change how the next generation engages with the world. Success would be more about taking risk, learning from failures, and making the required changes to make this world a better place.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.” — REV DR. Martin Luther King Jr.

A speech from long ago that is as true today as it was when it was delivered. This quote emphasizes the commitment needed to teach today’s youth about the value of real success. 

Let’s take M.L.K.’s Beyond Vietnam speech to heart. This quote helps us understand how much work is needed to teach today’s youth about the value of real success. 

To create a positive youth movement, we must undergo (an arduous task) this “radical revolution of values.” This revolution means that youth development programming must be a key element of our future growth as a country and a species. Social, emotional, mental, and physical wellness for children must be at the center of our education system if we want to create the leaders the future this world so desperately needs. 

If you have children or are involved in a child’s life, you can play a part in helping them along a pathway of success that will help them and not hinder them.

Here’s how:

  • Instead of asking them what they want to do when they grow up, ask them who they want to be? I ask the kids I work with this question: “If in 5-years’ time, I bump into you in the street, who do I meet?” I ask them to describe themselves as the person they want to become.
  • Another great question that gets us to think about our values is: “If you could make an important contribution to your community, what would it be?”
  • If you want to go broader, then ask: “If you had the power to make a change in the world, what would it be?”
  • Finally, ask them why after they answer the questions. This simple question digs into the heart of the matter and will help uncover the person they want to become.

These questions open children up to thinking about what is essential in their life and the community around them. When young people think about this, they are more likely to see success as personal and removes them from the rat race of success.

PureGame is playing its part. We have created a positive youth development model that places the child at the center of the learning experience. PureGame’s STAR Sports Program combines free, fun, simplified soccer play, emphasizing inclusion, coupled with character education.

At the core of what we teach is the S.T.A.R. (Stop, Think, Act, Reflect) model, a decision-making process for responsible and critical thinking. This process teaches children concepts, skills, and good character, core values, and personal responsibility. We introduce the positive life value curriculum, S.O.C.C.E.R. (Self-Control, Optimism, Compassion, Cooperation, Encouragement, Respect, and Responsibility) to our elementary-aged children while learning to use it S.T.A.R. to enhance critical thinking. Our programs utilize sports for experiential learning enhanced with Social and Emotional Learning (S.E.L.) and mentorship. This style of program delivery leads to kids developing character, being active, and building solid relationships.