03/07/2013 10:44 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Resourcefulness: A Perennial Characteristic of Success


The defining factor is never resources, it's resourcefulness" - Tony Robbins

This quote says it all in terms of how we need to be raising our kids today. The focus has been on the external pursuits of grades, trophies, awards, which would 'hopefully' lead to that prestigious college, big job in a 'big' company, working big hours to make the big bucks. It's a treadmill leading to nowhere. Well yes, it does lead to somewhere -- to the material world of resources. We chase our tails towards what's become the end-all and end up with big holes in our cheese into which we fall through a bottomless pit of emptiness.

Because we're missing something. We're missing the inner ability to deal and cope when the resources run dry; when we lose that job and therefore that income or we don't land the job to begin with because the other guy won it over us. We're missing the internal attributes to carry us through when the external pieces give way.

Just as the tide brings in the big waves and then recedes, so the resources can swallow us up into glory and then spit us out onto dry land; and then what. We're left hanging out like a beached whale dying for water devoid of any inner strength to get us back on our feet.

If resources are the transient, as they come and go with the times and circumstances and are great hooks on which to hang our hats of excuses as to why we're not doing something -- not enough money, time, people to give to us -- then resourcefulness is the perennial thread that is woven throughout the tapestry, pulling us through the knots, blockages, mistaken stitches.

We pride ourselves in being able to give our kids all the resources at our disposal -- the newest and best technology of all sorts at an increasingly younger age -- and then some. Wherever possible we're stepping in to prevent them at all costs from experiencing any pain, discomfort, failure, consequences or the likes of which that would begin to build and shape those internal muscles of resourcefulness.

Are we letting our kids figure out how to get back up on their feet after a mishap? We did it for them when they were babies. As they were learning to walk they would fall down over and over again, and then get back up on their own. And that's how they got to the next phase of development called walking. Rarely do you see a baby sitting on the ground just waiting for a rescuer to come and pull him back up onto his feet. He wimpers and gets back up. And we seem to be able to watch and tolerate that.

But something happens as they get older. We can't seem to allow them to suffer the natural consequences (the obviously safe ones). Parents will fight the teachers over a poor grade and say it's their fault, that they, the parent, didn't spend enough time doing the homework with or better yet, for, their child.

And so kids have nothing inside themselves to resort to. It all comes from outside sources -- let's call mom to bring my forgotten lunch, after all it's her fault she didn't remind me to take it; I didn't wake up in time for my bus because dad didn't wake me enough times and now dad has to drive me to school.

Parents are creating these scenarios by fostering this total lack of self-responsibility and ownership of a situation. The saving and rescuing is crippling our children and stripping them of the wonderful qualities that go into resourcefulness: problem-solving, trust in one's own ability to make something happen, competency and feelings of self-pride, creativity and thinking out of the box.

Let's put the resource of resourcefulness back into our children so when their outer circumstances crumble, they have themselves to turn back to and can pull themselves up by the bootstraps with renewed hope and fervor.