If I had to choose one word to describe our Chinese Pug Otis, it would be relentless.
He relentlessly combs the house every chance he gets for anything that might have a remnant of food on it. That means he constantly circles our end tables for dishes we forgot or smells the floor for every last crumb.
If he gets really desperate, he will work on opening our garbage can to try and peel off the top debris for some food scraps.
As odd as it seems, I sometimes wish I was this relentless. I wish I would relentlessly take a chance on things that might fall through just so I could say I tried.
I think it is those people that are relentless that cause change in the world. It is the relentless that create new businesses, that change minds through relentless protests and that bring peace to the world through relentless service.
Being relentless in many ways is a good thing, and yet it is something that we as Americans forgot about. It was our relentless forefathers that created this nation, relentless immigrants that knew there was something better and relentless small business owners that created companies that now employ thousands.
Being relentless is why America works … why it is where it is today.
Sometimes I think we forget that to make our lives better, we need to get off the couch and go make something happen. You can’t just sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to help you along.
One time I was feeling nostalgic and went through my childhood report cards. I had no idea what they would say, but I wanted to know what kind of student I was. When I graduated from high school, I was the salutatorian so I was expecting to have mostly As. What I found though was surprising.
None of them said I was smart or that I was a genius, instead I had average grades including some below-average grades.
Even though I had these grades, the comments read as if I was a total different child. The teachers wrote things like I had a strong work ethic or that I was really applying myself to certain subjects.
As I kept reading the report cards, eventually my grades improved showing that hard work does pay off. A lot of that work ethic comes from my parents. I can remember my dad sitting with me in third grade as we slogged through my math homework so that I could grasp the tough concepts. Through my dad’s help and his encouragement for me to try harder, I eventually got it.
I think we focus so much today on being smart, that we forget to instill relentlessness in our children. It is relentlessness that makes our children more successful than others, not being smart. I know plenty of really smart people that are not living up to their potential.
As parents, we forget to make our children work for what they’ve got … that we as parents are not there to make everything easy for them.
We shouldn’t just be working to make robots that understand everything in school. We need to challenge them and make them work for things. They should struggle in life because that is when they grow the most.
So the next time you want to help them put a toy back together or give them the answers to an assignment, stop yourself. Stop yourself from helping them, and let them think through it. Let them struggle, and even if they ask you for help, show them how and don’t actually do it for them.
They need to do things relentlessly because if they don’t learn it when they are young, who is going to teach it to them when they are old.