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"I Can't" or "I'm Bored"

Do you ever catch your child saying either of these phrases?

Well I guess the good news is you are definitely not alone.

We are constantly researching and learning the latest in areas of child and personal development. To top that off we probably have one of the best human development laboratories in the world to test and validate these ideas and methodologies.

Every once in a while I come across a significant concept that blows me away. You know that ah-ha moment or that new thing you learn that completely changes how you think. Well I want to share one of these with you.

Over the last few months from more than on source (it is interesting how profound learning happens this way?) I learned of a powerful theory regarding why kids and adults quit or give up on things in life and more importantly how to develop the skill and habit of not giving up. Interested in learning what I found? And this applies as much to you and I as it does to our children.

Here we go! When you look at it there are two primary reasons we fail or quit things – 1.) It’s too hard, or 2.) It’s too boring.

For adults “too hard” can translate to things like “It’s too hard or risky to change jobs right now.” Or, “It’s too hard to go back to school or start the business I have always wanted to start.” Or, “This job is too stressful.” Or, “I hate my boss/co-workers, I want to leave this #*%@# job.” Or, “I think I married the wrong person, I give up.”

For a child this is when they say “I don’t want to do that.”, “It’s too hard.”, “I just don’t like team sports.” “I am not coordinated.” And the most common one – “I can’t. This is also related to delayed gratification. (Remember there is a direct correlation between a child’s ability to delay gratification and their success later in life) Delayed gratification is when it is too hard to do something they do not want to do now, versus something easy or fun they would rather do.

For adults “too boring” can translate to things like “having to complete four years of college”. Or “Doing tasks at work well that you do not like or disagree with your boss over.” Or, “getting chores or projects around the house done.” Or the patience to listen and understand to your spouse.”

For a child “too boring” is practicing the piano or guitar every day especially at the beginning when you are not good yet or sticking with a sport for 5 or more years or staying up with your class and self-regulating your impulses even though you are done with your assignment or work and your classmates are not done yet or working hard and doing well in a subject you do not like in school or immediately doing a chore when asked even while in the middle of a video game or doing something you are not good at and not wanting to give up and finally the I am bored with almost everything.

Okay, so now that you understand a little better how prevalent “It’s too hard” and “I’m bored” is in both your life and your child let me share how you change and improve your ability to breakthrough and excel in these everyday roadblocks in life.

You can call it your zone, your “zone of discomfort”. As you can probably tell from some people you may know, their zone is very small and narrow. They are bored or give up with even the simplest tasks that require the slightest effort. Or they fear or have anxiety over the littlest things. Then there are others that seem to not be phased in the least by anything. The harder and more mundane or monotonous something is the harder they work. It actually drives them and motivates them to work even harder and never give up. The best way I can sum this up is with an Olympic athlete, concert violinist, a doctor or better yet a Navy Seal.

These guys are superhuman because they have learned to expand their “zone” to where nothing is too hard or too boring to them. They can sit in ice cold water for hours waiting to attack an enemy. They can push forward against overwhelming odds where they are likely to be injured or killed. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING is too hard or too boring for these guys. They thrive on the impossible and the mundane.

So what is the difference? Can you imagine you or your child approaching and hitting everything in life like a Navy Seal? They say “No task or problem is bigger than me!!!!”

Here is how you and your child expand your “zone of discomfort” and how we do it here. You will never change your zone by just learning about it. You will not change by seeing it done or even having it modeled for you. You cannot even do it with the best teachers and coaches in the world. There is only one way to develop this and it is by consistently experiencing real, intense, emotional hardship and boredom. First in little doses but you really do not become a high achiever until you regularly experience very high intense levels of hardship and boredom.

Luckily we have a very methodical and safe way to help do this for yourself (in our adult karate classes), and for your child. You probably see it every day at the dojo. At the younger ages and beginning stages of karate the discomfort is mild, just inside their comfort zone. Then as they get “stronger” at resisting discomfort and boredom we up the ante. In the advanced levels we push them really hard mentally, emotionally, and physically every day. Our objective is to make their karate the class both the hardest and most mundane thing they do all day!

How does your child do compared to their peers? Do they look like a Navy Seal?!

Or, is their life too easy?

“Prepare the Child for the Road, not the Road for the Child.”


P.S.- By the way you actually shrink your “zone” every time something comes too easy, comes to quickly or you are allowed to quit too soon?

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