Tracee Ellis Ross has a famous, successful mother: the singer Diana Ross. You might think that someone that successful would care a lot about success. Indeed, it’s a pretty common pattern: the driven parent drives their children—to get good grades, to win games, to be the strongest, prettiest, or most popular. They want to continue their pattern of excellence down through the college their kids go to or the profession they work.
But Tracee got lucky. Her mom did it right. While most parents would ask their kids, “How are your grades?” “Did you win?” “Are you #1 in your class?” Diana Ross would ask, “Did you do your best? How do you feel about it, Tracee?” Tracee, who amidst some fits and starts would go on to become a very accomplished actress, would explain that her mother’s emphasis taught her an essential perspective shift: “How to navigate a life through how it feels to you, as opposed to how it looks to everyone else.”
We’ve talked about this before: School doesn’t matter. Grades don’t matter. What matters is what your kids learn about the world through these things, the priorities they pick up and the values they absorb. So that’s the question: Are you teaching them that test scores matter, or that learning counts? Are you teaching them that success is winning arbitrary competitions, or that it is becoming the best version of themselves?
Results don’t matter, not the obvious ones anyway. What counts is the person you are shaping them to be. What counts is who they are shaping themselves into.