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What is Life Demanding From Your Kids?

There are generally two approaches to helping kids figure out their path in life:

  1. The put your head down and be responsible approach: this is where we share wisdom with kids to stay focused and dedicated to being successful in their current responsibilities. Do good in school. Apply to good colleges. Do well in college. Get a job. Figure it out later. 
  2. The find your passion approach: this is where we guide kids to consider their unique wiring and values and ultimately what brings them joy, then help them apply those things to a career. This is primarily where we sit in terms of our curriculum.

But what if there’s a third path to consider?

New York Times writer David Brooks writes in his book, The Road to Character, about the idea of being “Summoned by Life”. He writes, “The person leading the Summoned Life starts with a very concrete situation: I’m living in a specific year in a specific place facing specific problems and needs. At this moment in my life, I am confronted with specific job opportunities and specific options. The important questions are: What are these circumstances summoning me to do? What is needed in this place? What is the most useful social role before me?” He argues that people in history who’ve managed to live great lives mostly weren’t set out to do so. Rather, they responded to the circumstances they found themselves in. 

Admittedly the summoned life approach doesn’t consider happiness or fulfillment as top priorities. In fact, the approach doesn’t put the individual as a high priority at all. Instead, the summoned life approach serves as a useful lens to help kids see themselves as a part of a larger, unfolding story. 

It would sound like this: 

  • Given who you are and what you have in terms of talents, energy, and abilities, and compared against the big challenges that exist in our world, where do you fit?
  • What problems do you feel drawn to solve?
  • What big fight are you equipped for?

When someone is summoned by life, they rarely communicate with the language of fulfillment or happiness. Yet, they’re full of life. 

Ultimately, that’s what I want for my kids. I want them to feel like their contributions matter; their lives matter. The world needs them to engage and respond. 

So what if we start planting that idea in their heads early on?


P.S. What if there was a way to get the best resources to impact the kids in your life—delivered to you at the right time?
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Do you know?

For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.  

They're uncommon sense ideas, really.

Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).

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