Let’s reframe “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Asking kids what they want to be when they grow up is a silly question. Because the answer has pretty much zero bearing on where they're going to end up. What job you take when you grow up isn't really a question of what you want to do so much as it is a question of how hard you're willing to work to get there. Almost always the kid will answer with some high-status profession that's designed to impress the person asking the question, like NBA player, singer, firefighter, and everyone nods sagely. I'm not one for bursting a kid's bubble, but I am against lying through statements about beliefs that you have no intention of following through on, no matter how old you are. Sure, these kids are young, but it's a bad habit to develop; look at how many adults profess to care about the environment, or animals, and then do nothing about it, or only act in ways that signal their care, without actually helping the problem. If a kid tells me what he wants to be when he grows up, I want to know right now what that kid's doing to make that dream a reality. Better questions are, "How hard are you working right now? Are you in the top 1% of your class in terms of work rate?" "How much do you read?" (if he/she wants to be an athlete, musician, programmer) "How much time are you devoting to practicing your game?" Bill Bradley, one of my heroes, once said that anyone could be an All-American, all it takes is three hours a day. It helps to be 6'6, but the point is well taken - the best athletes/musicians are those who work the hardest and practice consistently. (if he/she wants to be an entrepreneur) "How many businesses have you started?" "Do you have an addictive personality? How hard do your friends work?" - evaluate risk of backsliding Taking a kid's answer at face value when he tells you he wants to play in the NBA is hurting the kid. It prolongs the belief that just wanting something to be true will make it so, and the cheap approval lets the kid know his current work rate is okay. I wish that people would start designating the kids that are working on their game for three hours a day as the kids who want to play in the NBA, not the ones who tell you they want to be an NBA player.

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