Obviously you want them to be successful. You want them to be excellent—at whatever they do in this life.
But it is essential, as you try to motivate and encourage and inspire them, that you are quite clear: All of this is extra.
You have loved them from the moment they were born. You are proud of them already. There is nothing they have to do to earn this. Nothing they must accomplish to measure up in your eyes. They need to know that they are enough.
That’s what Mr. Rogers was trying to get kids to understand when they watched his show—that they made the world special just by being in it. This wasn’t some meaningless platitude. He had been a sickly, small boy. He had a successful father. He didn’t quite fit in. It had been his grandfather who had told him that he was enough, that he was special, that he was worth something.
There are better forms of motivation out there, as we’ve discussed, that deprivation. Withholding is a cruel carrot to wield. It doesn’t matter if it worked on you. It doesn’t matter if it worked on Michael Jordan. You have to give what you didn’t get. You have let them know.
They are enough. They always have been.