Apr 15, 2020

Teaching Grit and Resilience

Excerpt from Do the KIND Thing

As a kid, my favorite story was “The Three Little Pigs.” The lesson about investing time in quality work stuck with me, and in everything I do I always try to build a solid structure. Now my wife and I read this folktale to our children. We also read them the story about “The Little Engine That Could” (“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”).

Can you teach resilience? How do you forge a young (or less than young) personality to know to get up and not stay down? How do you inculcate the sense in your kids that they should not take no for an answer when they truly believe in something?

As parents, we sometimes face the perverse incentive for our kids not to question us and to accept whatever we tell them. But teaching your kids that it is okay to question authority, that it is okay to press you, is sometimes useful. You don’t want to raise someone who can’t get along with his peers because he is too pushy or stubborn. But you also don’t want a pushover who accepts whatever life throws at him or her and will blindly obey when someone imposes an arbitrary rule or condition. The lesson has to be taught and then restated for them: If something goes wrong, don’t be afraid to try again. What matters is effort. What matters is that you don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid to not try. Children (young and old) want to avoid disappointing their parents. It is important for us to learn to compete with ourselves and be proud of our effort and not to try to succeed to impress others.

A great book that shares insights on this front is NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Much of our success— or lack thereof— in life stems from luck. But much of that luck is also related to our persistence in the game. If you don’t play the game, after all, you can’t score. Life will certainly throw many curveballs, so teaching ourselves and our loved ones to have a resilient mindset can help us deal with that uncertainty and persevere. It is critical that we build— in ourselves and in our offspring— the self- confidence necessary to keep playing the game, even if we don’t think we are that good at it. The more we play it, the better we get at it.

Family          Leadership

More from Daniel

End of Year Note 2023

Dear Friends,

As we approach the close of this tumultuous year, I am reflecting on the challenges we’ve experienced in pursuit of our mission to foster kindness in the US and across the world. 

It has been a difficult journey marked by the rise of extremism, lack of civility, and various forms of racism – including a dramatic rise in antisemitic attacks and reports of anti-Muslim hate – that have tested the fabric of our humanity.

In times like these, we face a choice: to be Builders, united in our efforts to construct a better world, bring light, and reach out to the “other” — or to be Destroyers that aim to divide and diminish.

While social media amplifies voices of hate and extremism, we cannot allow ourselves to be consumed by anger or to become more radical ourselves. When we do, we unwittingly contribute to greater division.

To build, we must commit to develop the skills to bridge differences and solve problems across lines of difference (for concrete tips on how to do so, read this letter and listen to this Axios podcast with Lonnie Ali, co-founder of the Muhammad Ali Center, sharing concrete tips on how to do so). We must cultivate the habits of curiosity, compassion, and courage to embrace authentic pluralism.

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Terrorist Attacks by Hamas- Builders vs. Destroyers

As someone who has dedicated my life to build bridges between people, most centrally among Israelis and Palestinians committed to resolve their conflict and build a better future for their children (ie., OneVoice & PeaceWorks Inc), I hope everyone will unanimously and vocally condemn the appalling terrorist attacks by Hamas. Hamas proudly targeted women and children as hostages. Ukrainian President Zelenskyysaid it best: terror like that perpetrated by Hamas must be eradicated or else violent extremism metastasizes and harms us all.

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You can’t make big ESG commitments while failing at the basics of kindness

Ultimately, what we achieve as corporate leaders, even in the form of social impact, must work hand in hand with how we go about achieving it. How we act along our journeys is at least as important as–if not more so than–the destination. For example, if we are donating a portion of profits to at-need communities, but not being open-minded, respectful, and honest in how we lead in the workplace, we risk undermining our larger goals by contributing to a disrespectful, intolerant, or unethical culture. In fact, a company with no stated social mission that is modeling positive values like integrity and respect may be doing more good for our world than one with a big ESG commitment failing at the basics of kindness.

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