A few minutes ago, I happen to get a video that showed up on my Facebook feed. It was a video of a Pakistani boy singing a song and the comment on the top was “Mashallah*, how gifted this boy is.”
(Mashallah* is an Arabic phrase that means “God has willed” or “as God willing”, expresses appreciation, joy, praise, or thankfulness for an event or person that was just mentioned ~ courtesy google)
I ignored the video and continued with my work.
After sometime, I saw the video once again appearing on my feed. And this time round, there were many more people sharing this video.
So out of sheer curiosity, I clicked on it to watch what the commotion was all about and these were my observations.
- It turned out to be a home video of a Pakistani family.
- The boy was asked to sing a song to entertain the guests of the house.
- Even though there were small children screaming in the background — this boy kept singing to everyone delight.
- He kept trying his best to sing and entertain but I felt he was struggling to breath and stay in tune (In other words — I found it strange)
- I saw the comments — almost all of them being from Pakistan and almost all of them were filled with praise.
So out of sheer curiosity — I forwarded this video on my feed to understand why this boy was being praised so lavishly. Because I didn’t find anything great. I seriously didn’t.
I tagged Pakistani friends of mine on to the video and asked them to give me their honest feedback because I kept wondering what the was so great about this video.
One by one the comments came in. And then I realized, I got mixed reviews.
The majority of them praised the boy for the high note, the melodious voice and some even complimented his ability to sing the song the way it was presented.
And then there were the others who absolutely shared my line of thought — of confusion and bewilderment as to what was so great about this young boy’s performance.
Now, let me tell you a few things about me before I do go ahead.
I am not one of those people who gets impressed by anyone doing anything that comes naturally to them. For example, someone with a good voice singing a song or someone who is strong displaying feats of strength. My normal reaction is “err…okay so what?”
In fact, I personally HATE it when some parent or individual highlights any specific ability of a child and starts showering that kid with praise for that particular ability.
I SERIOUSLY HATE IT.
And that is why when parents have come to me with their child, letting me know “Oh, you have no idea how smart our child is” or “You will be surprised to know how incredibly gifted our child is” or (the worst one among them all) “Our child studies at the last minute and then get incredible marks. If only he would use this talent….”
So why is it that I hate these compliments & kind words of praise?
Simply because what a parent may find impressive, in the grander and larger scheme of things — no one seriously cares!
NO ONE GIVES A FLYING FUCK!
Consider the real life example (changed the names to protect the identity)
Mark — a CEO of a large company and his wife is fashion designer & owner of a successful business. I know both of them very well.
One day Mark & his wife brought home their daughter for me to evaluate and give her my advice. Apparently, their daughter had gotten admission in one of the top colleges in Europe and they wanted her to get some real life advice from my side before she would commence her new life.
So after the pleasantries, Mark introduced his daughter to me in the following manner:
“My daughter is so smart, so intelligent, so creative & so mature — it seriously surprises me. Loy, you will not believe it but sometimes she even advices me and guides me what to do. Even though she is hardly 20 years old, she has the maturity most girls do not have at her age. She is very good at public speaking, has won many awards in school for debating and she was also selected in many leadership roles when in school. So Loy, I thought the best person to meet was you. And I want you to evaluate her and give her your advice.”
The 20 something young girl looked at me with a proud smile basking in the introduction her parents had just given her.
And so I was supposed to evaluate her.
I knew what the parents wanted and were expecting — they wanted me to validate their hopes, their beliefs and their dream — that THIS CHILD of theirs was ‘special’, ‘gifted’ and ‘one-of-a-kind’.
I looked at the girl again.
I looked at the parents again.
They both had that eager look waiting for me to shower their daughter and the parents with compliments.
And so, I took a deep breath.
I then asked Mark the permission to conduct my ‘evaluation’ but in my style.
He gave me the ‘go ahead’ with pride and happiness.
And so I started my interview session.
Within 30 minutes or so the interview was done with.
The young woman had broken down in tears.
She was embarrassed.
She was confused.
She was sobbing out of shame & failure.
I looked at Mark and his wife.
Mark was visibly upset.
His wife was visibly upset.
But more than that — I knew they all wanted to run away.
And before I could say anything — the daughter stood up and ran out of the house. The wife ran out to get her. And then Mark took a deep breath and then asked me if he could excuse me and come back after sometime.
I nodded my head.
He also left.
I was all alone and I continued my work.
After an hour or so there was a ring on my door.
I opened the door.
Once again the family was back.
Mark came back with his wife and his daughter.
He apologized on behalf of his wife and his daughter.
His wife apologized to me.
And then his daughter apologized to me.
Their face clearly showed they had all cried together.
After everyone was cool , calm and composed — I explained to them why I did what I had done. And both Mark & his wife understood the reason and purpose behind my ‘interview strategy’.
After the session was over — all three thanked me.
They left and went home.
And it was all over.
Now you must be wondering — what in the world did I do?
Without getting into many details, let me put it to you this way — I asked the young woman questions about love, about life, about the things that no one would ask her — from her character to questioning her integrity & ethics. I let her know I wasn’t impressed with at all, I didn’t consider her special at all, in fact, I wouldn’t even look at her face had I met her in outside.
You can be rest assured, I made it incredibly tough for her to face the interview. If adults break down when I take their interview — this girl was a child’s play. And even though I knew that she was getting more and more uncomfortable (including her parents), I didn’t stop until she broke down. And even after that I didn’t stop. You could say I made sure she wanted to run away — which she did.
She broke under pressure.
And this is exactly what I wanted to show the parents — the reality of what happens when people face pressure.
Given that I had more experience & knowledge than her, I don’t blame her. After all she was only in her 20’s. But I blame the parents for feeding all the false confidence, the false sense of belief and the false sense of security that this young girl could conquer and tame the world BECAUSE she was ‘special’.
Here is what I want you to understand — A girl who is only in her 20’s, who hasn’t seen anything of the real world, who doesn’t have the emotional, intellectual or logical maturity & experience — is put on a pedestal by her parents every single day, is praised and glorified by her parents and is hyped to such a level that the girl actually believes in her parents bullshit about her — so much so, she actually starts assuming that maybe, just maybe she is god’s gift to mankind.
Now maybe in the eyes of the Father (Mark) and his wife — their child is the most precious, most talented, most gifted and most special. But here is what I want you to think….
- What do you think would the opinion be of a recruiter when this girl, along with another 1,000 youngsters apply for a dream job — do you think they will also feel the same way about this girl?
- Do you think when this girl joins an organization — all the employees and members of her team are going to praise and worship her ‘glorious talent’ with such a great potential & promising future?
- Do you think when he gets married — her husband, her in-laws, her future family is going to go ‘bananas’ about this girl, brag about her to world how her father & mother brag about her to everyone and keep advertising her greatness to the world?
The truth is all these so called amazing children, promising prodigies & great talent in the end amount to nothing. They all end up as ordinary, a normal everyday nobody and in most cases ‘a-has-been’.
See if you can figure out what happened to all the rank-holders, the high-school hotshots & the college legends who were told they had the potential to achieve the sun, moon and the stars. Chances are either you have never heard from them or they have gotten married and settled down into a family or they are now working for an multinational company as an employee under someone.
So what happened to all that ‘amazing talent’, ‘incredible maturity’, ‘unbelievable wow-factor’ when these kids were young?
Do you know why?
These parents are trying to magnify their insecurities, their low-esteem, their need for approval and importance through their children. After all it is MY child, MY baby and MY young one who looks like me, with the:
Of my husband/wife.
(Feel free to switch these characteristic however you like).
And that is why these well-intentioned individuals keep harping, hemming & hewing about how AMAZING, WOW or FANTASTIC this 8th-wonder of the world — their wonderful child is…..
Agreed — maybe there there are many who cannot sing or dance or study like your child but here’s new flash for you buddy — in the real world NO ONE gives a flying fuck about these gimmicks — unless of course your kid is the next resurrection of Justin Bieber. And even if your kid IS the next Justin Bieber — until he makes something stand out from his life — like big money, selling millions of records and becoming a global brand — please do not go advertising to the world about how great, amazing and wonderful your child is — because once again — No one cares.
I looked at the girl, the father and the mother and wondered….what would this girl do when she would fly out of the safe little nest the parents had built for her and faced real problems in life when her parents wouldn’t be there…how and what would she do then?
As I thought about this couple and this young girl, my thoughts came back to this facebook forward of this Pakistani boy.
I imagined the amount of publicity, praise & popularity the child was receiving. I’m pretty sure his father and mother are hugging him and letting him know how amazing he is. And if he was lucky, in a few days either a TV channel would pick him up to perform on their channel or a News channel or Media company would feature him prominently on their pages or he maybe he would be called to perform for an event….
After that…..I wonder what?
Would he going to continue his singing career?
If yes — would his parents be willing to invest the money, effort, time and sacrifice needed to ensure his career goes places?
Would they willing to put their money where their mouth is and be willing to risk all the time, effort and money — which may go into hundreds of thousands of dollars — and be mentally prepared that maybe, just maybe all of it will go to nothingness?
Or would they after all the hype and hula hoop is done with, they would quietly go back to their normal world, doing their normal stuff, being normal — which is another way of saying…going back to reality?
I’m pretty sure you would want to ask me “By Loy, why think so far ahead? Whats your problem in praising a small kid?”
I have no problem my friend.
But you adults are creating problems for children like these by giving them false affirmations and assurances about themselves and life. It is like promising a young guillible girl that you would get married to her, have children with her and have a family with her EVEN THOUGH you knew deep down this wasn’t going to happen.
And why would you do this?
Well — just to give the person hope.
So is this a good thing?
If not, then giving a child false hopes is also not!
Telling a child that the child is ‘special’ and ‘gifted’ in turn will make any child rely more on his or her ‘gift’ rather than his character, his hard-work — the sacrifice, the sweat and the sufferings that one would absolutely need to succeed in the real world.
I have seen far too many youngsters lives go down the drain of mediocrity & bad habits because of this destructive upbringing. And guess what — I still bump into so many ‘special’, ‘gifted’ and ‘amazing’ youngsters who even though have zero experience in the real world — who even have the audacity to advice someone like me in this 40’s about life.
After all — they don’t have anything to worry about since mummy and daddy is paying all their bills right?
Listen — let’s do this….
Let’s undertake a challenge.
You raise your kid complimenting the bejesus out of your kids natural ability. While I will raise my kid without giving the kid a single compliment for her talent, skill or ability. And lets have a look where does this take us.
I am willing to bet my life’s work that in 20 years time, you will see how dangerous, disasters and destructive your methods have been. And you will see how incredible, inspirational and immensely powerful my approach has been.
And why am I so sure?
Because no matter how talented or how gifted or how special anyone is — Hard Work, Consistency, Perseverance & Obsession mixed together with singularity of purpose will hands down beat the Confidence, Cockiness & Charisma of Talent any day.
And there are enough and more living legends in our midst to prove this theory for both cases…
As I sit down at 7:37pm in the evening writing this sentence, I see my wifey with her 4 month big tummy cleaning the house.
I look at her.
She looks at me.
And then she smiles.
I smile but I know one day, I will have to walk my talk.
I will have to be a Father.
I will have to be the person who shapes the Character, the Core & the Complete self of the baby she is carrying in her womb. And I am aware it will be a daunting task.
I know for a fact, I am least qualified to execute this responsibility. But I can tell you one thing — That baby, that child, that little life will never have life easy, will never be complimented and will always have to work very very very very very hard for her stripes. Because in the end, there will be only one virtue I will teach her.
And that is — Hard Work is the only way for her to succeed in life.
And if she wants to succeed at anything — she will have to work her ass off for years and years at anything. And if there she wants a compliment from me — there will only be one — for working hard.
In my eyes, there either the world’s best or the person who works hard. So if my kid is not the world’s best — then, I want to know my kid has worked incredibly hard.
REALLY REALLY REALLY HARD.
Otherwise, in my eyes, you are just another gimmick, another spark or another mirage that looked so bright but then vanished into nothingness.
I think its time to be real and show our children the reality of the world. And stop all this bullshit, all these overly optimistic compliments & these feel good statements. Because all it does is give a person validation. And validation doesn’t pay your bills.
After all, isn’t this exactly why people are so desperate to check Facebook, Instagram, Quora & Youtube for likes & positive comments…..? Yes, it does make you feel good.
But what value does this have in the real world?
“My child is the most talented, most gifted and the most smart child in the family….”
So fucking what?