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Be Best? Nah. Be Resilient

What happened to hard work, delayed gratification, disappointment? These are muscles that need to be worked in order to be strengthened. Why? Because it makes us more resilient. Grittier.

Einstein didn’t speak until he was four years old, and he was bullied. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for not having “good enough” ideas. Maya Angelou was mute for years due to abuse and trauma. Abraham Lincoln lost seven political races, went bankrupt, and his family was once evicted. Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected 27 times. Honda was turned down by Toyota for a job. Michael Jordan. J.K. Rowling. Steve Jobs.

You get the idea: ADHD and feeling like a failure.

This week I had three students, and my own son, in tears over the letter “B.”

Three of my 9 Honors English students were close to an A-, but they simply were not there yet. There has to be a cutoff somewhere, right? I’d willingly abolish grades if I could; but I can’t. I can’t just give my students As because they want them. What would that teach them?

What happened to hard work, delayed gratification, disappointment? These are muscles that need to be worked in order to be strengthened. Kids (and adults) need to learn how to deal with disappointment. Why? Because it makes us more resilient. Grittier. We learn by doing. Once we allow ourselves to experience “failure,” our brains draw a blueprint for how to handle setbacks in the future, and more importantly: how to recover.

[Free Download: Evaluate Your Teen’s Emotional Control]

Likewise, Lance recently tried out for travel soccer and made the B team. I was proud of him. I played on the B team (shout out, Thunder!) and made some of the best friends and best memories of my life. But when he realized most of his school friends made the A team, he felt disappointed.

We walked over to the bleachers, sat shoulder-to-shoulder, and I watched my 8-year-old son take himself through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

Acceptance is a beautiful thing. I realize that it starts with an A, so here are a few synonyms that don’t: consent, cooperation, recognition.

We need to take the pressure off. I’ll say it again: we need to take the pressure off.

Sometimes, the best thing is the worst thing; and the worst thing, is the best thing. So be better. Be. B.

[ADHD Truths I Wish I Knew As a Kid]

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