When I give presentations on student success to groups in Connecticut, I am often asked very specific educational counseling questions: When should my son take the SATs? What should my daughter do to prepare for the AP exams? How can my son improve his writing? What colleges fit my daughter’s interests? What should my child do to gain entrance to an Ivy League school? And, so forth.
While all those questions are important to the parent asking, the question that should be asked is how should I build my children’s work character?
Work character is the “it” or “X” factor that separates those who succeed at school and life from those that do not. Talent only gets people so far. Luck (as in being born to highly connected-wealthy parents) also only gets people so far. Work character propels people farther than both combined.
Work character surpasses simply working hard. The subtleties and nuances of work character encompass myriad factors including the willingness to work long hours; work intensely; figure out what work is needed to be done; do work that is necessary but not enjoyable; work as much as is necessary to accomplish a goal; work as much as possible without knowing with certainty that a goal will be accomplished; and simply “doing what it takes” to achieve a goal.
For students, this is the trait that you are developing when you are putting in those long hours studying chemistry, English, history, Algebra II, and Spanish III.
For parents, once your child develops work character, you can rest easy. They have the trait that will best prepare them into the indefinite future.