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Go Be a Super Hero!

Go Be a Super Hero!

“I prefer to earn it. It makes me appreciate it more.” – Michael Jordan

When my daughter, Tayla, turned four, she came to us and said, “May I get an iPhone for my birthday when I turn eight?” We both looked at her a little surprised and giggled to ourselves. Laughing it off, we quickly responded with, “Yes, of course, no problem!” thinking she was bound to forget, particularly that it was so far off in the future. Well, were we in for a surprise when she constantly reminded us of our promise to her. We soon realized we had no other option but to honor our promise when she turned eight. Surprisingly enough, all the other kids in her grade also got iPhones at eight years old. So perhaps our bright little four year olds had discussed this at school and had primed their parents the same way!

About three months before her eighth birthday, I sat her down and explained that cell phones were an expensive gadget. I made her a deal that I would pay half the cost of the iPhone, but explained that she needed to pay the other half from money earned through chores. We set up a chart on her wall with dollar amounts attached to specific chores.

Growing up as kids, whenever the four of us wanted something other than the basics, my Dad always gave us the same response, “Go find a way to buy it yourself” It was not the answer we wanted. To us it seemed cold, mean and harsh, but over time we learned the “value of money” and we began to feel a deep pride in ourselves when we eventually learned the skills to earn our own money. So because of my upbringing and the lessons and gratitude it had taught me, I wanted Tayla to have the same experience. She happily marked her chores on her board every day, and at night we would sit together on her bed, and with great excitement, calculate her daily total. Before this exercise, we couldn’t get her to do her daily chores with any regularity, but once we attached a financial value to each one and a goal at the outcome, instantly her behavior changed.

Within three months she had earned the money she needed for her iPhone. On her eighth birthday, I took her to the Apple store and let her choose the phone she wanted. The pride she felt for having put in all that hard work, made her appreciate her phone so much more than if I had just handed it to her. She looked after that phone with a pride of ownership I had not yet seen in her. Even today she loves to tell the story of how she had to pay for her own iPhone, and I beam with pride.

Many years ago, someone told me something I never forgot. “There is no value in free!” Give someone something for free and generally they don’t regard it with much value. I buy and read tons of books. I have probably loaned out hundreds of self-help and motivational books over the years. Most of them I never got back, and even worse they were seldom read. The day I started asking for $10 in exchange for my book, with the promise I would give it back when they returned it, was the day the outcome changed. The books now get read, returned and exchanged for new ones. This slight change in approach made a world of difference!

I have always loved the quote by Christopher Reeve, and some of you may remember me using this quote in the past. “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Learning a new skill, starting a business, or getting a job and standing on one’s own two feet is an amazing journey of growth for any individual, at any stage of one’s life. It’s this personal growth that brings out the super hero in every one of us. In a sense it’s like learning a new language. It takes times. One doesn’t always get it right on the first go. Expect failures, challenges and obstacles on your path, but ultimately the accomplishment and feeling of self-reliance when one succeeds, makes one feel like a super hero!

It takes courage to grow and take responsibility for your life; it takes grit to push past hardships; it takes tenacity to overcome fear and push on regardless of failure; and it takes guts to make your dreams come true. Become the super hero of your life! Otherwise you are missing the whole point of this amazing adventure!

Go Be a Super Hero!

Ralph Harris