Earlier this evening, my 7 year old daughter, Ava, was upset that she did not achieve her goal of reading at least 22 books this month. Her 1st grade teacher, Ms. O’Connor, has a game that motivates the kids to read. If they read 22 books in a month, their name is entered into a drawing for a free pizza dinner.
Ava missed the mark in December, and was very upset about it. However, she again failed in January, coming up just 3 books short.
Ava, being a very smart little lady, figured a few ways to work around the system. First, she wanted to read 5 books in one night before bedtime. There was not enough time, so of course, we said no. Then, she picked up 5 very easy books (think Goodnight Moon, etc.), that she knew she could breeze through, figuring that the number was all that mattered. Again, I denied her request.
“The point is not JUST to read the 22 books, but to read books on your grade level so that you develop your skill and confidence.”
Then, she launched into “excuse making mode.”
“But Daddy, I didn’t have time.”
“Ava, you had all month…the same amount of time every other kid in your class had.”
“But Daddy, I just forgot.”
“Well, Blondie, you forgot in December too, and still didn’t make the changes needed to hit the number in January.”
“I just didn’t WANT to read.”
“It is okay if you don’t want to read, but you won’t be able to win the pizza if you don’t.”
Then, she morphed into the blame game.
“Daddy, if YOU had read with me more, I…"
I cut her off.
“Ava, in this life you have to accept responsibility. If you fail at something, there is no shame in that. I would rather you try, and fail, then to not try at all. BUT, if you fail, admit that you failed, and that it was your fault you failed.”
Then, I remembered a famous phrase I had been taught by a wise man. It contains 10 two-letter words, but speaks volumes when it comes to self reliance.
“If it is to be, it is up to me.”
I asked her to repeat it. IF. IT. IS. TO. BE. IT. IS. UP. TO. ME.
Simple, yet profound.
“Ava, people in life do not want to hear excuses. Your boss doesn’t care WHY you didn’t complete a job on time. Other people do not deserve to be blamed for your failures. If you fail at something, look yourself in the mirror, admit it, and move on. If something is meant to be, it is up to you. So please say the phrase with me.”
ME: “If it is to be…”
HER: “It is up to me.”
What if everyone on our planet lived that way? The world would be a FAR better place.