The Biggest Lie We Tell Our Kids

| April 18, 2009

Have you ever said to your child or to a loved one, “You can be anything you want to be, anything you dream of being”? If you have, you are not alone, but I’m sorry to tell you that you lied. Not deliberately, of course, but it is a blatant falsehood. Shocked? Don’t be. Instead, it’s time to stop the madness and get real. That’s hard to do, because our culture has inculcated this belief in our unlimited potential in most every one of us, just as we have all been taught to believe that money doesn’t bring happiness—which is also untrue.
W. Clement Stone, the insurance man and author of numerous books on success, who in the last century was the richest man in Chicago, was famous for saying, “Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” This ultimate optimist had the best of intentions, I’m sure. And it’s a message that we all want to hear: Sure, I want to be Warren Buffet, or at least have his billions. I wouldn’t mind looking like Brad Pitt while I’m at it, and I would love to play tennis like Roger Federer, but those qualities are simply not in my genetic code.