A couple of weeks ago a friend proudly showed me her grandson’s report card. She had reason to be proud. With four A’s and two B; things looked good.

He also had one E in a mandatory subject that he really didn’t like.

I was touched by the mature and loving way in which she dealt with the situation. Most parents or grandparents who speak to me about their children’s grades, are usually so focused on the poor marks and how to improve it, that they don’t even seem to see the good marks.

Marcus Buckingham says:” Most children are characterized by the people who love them the most, by who the child isn’t, rather than who the child is.”

My friend, on the other hand, simply stated that as long as her grandson passed the subject at the end of the year, she wasn’t too concerned about the E. She would encourage him to work on it enough to pass, but she does not expect him to also score an A in it because it’s simply not his interest. She would much rather allow him to spend most of his time on the subjects that he likes and is good at.

Isn’t it time that as parents, we encourage our kids to spend most of their time on the subjects that they enjoy and are naturally good at, instead of only focusing on the poor marks and how to improve it?

Again, I’m not saying that we should ignore poor marks. But I doubt that we should expect our kids to spend most of their time on improving it.

To illustrate this principle, I want to share with you the following parable that I received from a good friend and colleague:

Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world. So they organized a school.

They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming in fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying, and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to drop swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused his web feet to be badly worn, so that he was only average in swimming. But average was quite acceptable, so nobody worried about that - except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of his class in running, but developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but he encountered constant frustration in flying class because his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He developed "charlie horses" from overexertion, and so only got a C in climbing and a D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing classes he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his own way to get there .....

The obvious moral of the story is a simple one - each creature has its own set of capabilities in which it will naturally excel - unless it is expected or forced to fill a mould that does not fit. When that happens, frustration, discouragement and even guilt bring overall mediocrity or complete defeat. A duck is a duck - and only a duck. It is built to swim, not to run or fly and certainly not to climb. A squirrel is a squirrel - and only that. To move it out of its forte, climbing, and then expect it to swim or fly will drive a squirrel mad. Eagles are beautiful creatures in the air but not in a foot race. The rabbit will win every time unless, of course, the eagle gets hungry!

Your talent is what motivates you! It could be called your "inward drive" or "determining principle" or "personal tendency". It's the way you're wired up! Make it into a Strength and celebrate it!

Warm regards,

Author's Bio: 

Marja is a business and people maximizer with more than 13 years of international HR, coaching, mentoring, training and consulting experience in various industries throughout Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia and the USA.

Her focus is on assisting business owners and leaders to increase the profitability of their companies or departments and to help them build strong teams that will allow them to take back time for themselves so that they can lead a more balanced life.

In the corporate arena she has extensive experience in balancing and aligning people’s personal development goals with organizational goals, culture change, facilitation, communication, leadership alignment and organization design.

Marja’s strength lies in her creativity and ability to recognize something good and turn it into something superb. She helps people and organizations to see their existing and emerging abilities and then assists them to develop those talents and opportunities until they are strengths that contribute to the individual’s and organization’s growth and prosperity.

For assistance to discover your children’s talents and strategies to nurture those talents, please feel free to contact Marja on +27 744927222 for a free 15 minute initial consultation or Skype me on Coachingminds