Graduating From High School in the Time of Corona – A Parent’s Perspective

Challenges of parenting in the 21st century when your child is graduating from high school

2020 was the year of the Corona and also the year when my eldest daughter Maya was graduating from high school. The biggest challenge as a parent is that we have to guide and prepare our children to enter a world that is very different from the one we grew-up in. Yet, as a parent you still have the challenge of inspiring, supporting, guiding your children and prepare them for a world that is messy, uncertain and full of surprises and opportunities.

There is so much I want to say to her before she leaves the family nest. The world is complex. Things are not always what they seem. Learn to swim in the sea of information and sometimes dis-information. Don’t rush to judgment. Try to discern, connect the dots. Put things into perspective. So much to say, to keep it sweet and short I wrote her an open letter.

Maya Reed – Class of 2020 – A Memorable Year

Live and Let Live

Live fully and courageously,
Let live and understand Human Nature,
Know yourself and your true essence.

Wake up, dress up, show up,
And do the best you can every day,
Until You know better,
Then, when you know better,
Do better.

Treat your body as a Temple,
Attend to it every day,
Nurture it,
Worship it.

Know that early years can be full of tears,
But I know that you are built to face those fears,
And I will always be here to send you cheers.

Do you have what it takes?
A mind of your own,
And the ability to get in the zone.

I wish you clear vision,
So that you can make good decisions,
And not be paralyzed by indecision.

To have clear vision,
Can you master your intuition?
And use it as ammunition.

So, go and shine your unique and natural light,
As bright and as strong as you can,
Be phenomenal!
Be you.

©Joanne Reed

After graduating from high school, what do you want to be when you grow-up?

What do you want to be when you grow up is a difficult question and needs thinking about carefully. Being a doctor, a vet, an engineer, a lawyer, or a scientist are all great options after graduating from high school but what if I said you should consider all of those, but also being a writer? The writer of the story of your life.

People live the story they want to tell. Your life is your story, and your mission is to write the best story you can and have lots of adventures along the way. You are both on a journey to find your own purpose and unleash your full potential.

Becoming successful at what you do should be part of your long-term plans. But how do you define success? It is a fluid concept. Success means different thing to different people. But for me, success comprises three key things:

  1. Success is an Iceberg. When you look at successful people what you see is often only the surface; confidence, wealth, beauty, relationships, seniority. Often, what you don’t see is what took them there: persistence, failure, sacrifice, disappointment, hard work and dedication. Thomas Edison said: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” don’t forget and don’t be afraid to perspire.
  2. Success is a garden. Everything starts with an idea. “Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds, you can grow flowers, or you can grow seeds.” Plant a seed in your mind and care for it, work steadily towards your goal and be strong enough not to let setbacks defeat you in the accomplishment of your purpose.
  3. Success is about overcoming adversity. No journey will ever be perfectly smooth or proceed exactly as planned. There will be ups and down and unexpected turns, you will encounter difficulties. What do you do when things get a little rough? Well, I suggest that you take advice from Maya Angelou.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
– Maya Angelou

Story telling Time

Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer; the farmer was struggling to provide for his family. His hope and vision for a better future for his family was placed in a few bamboo seeds. He decided to dig hole after hole to plant the seeds then he began to take care of those seeds day after day by watering the seeds and fertilizing the ground.

The farmer decided to plant other crops around the bamboo in order to feed his family; but his real hope for prosperity remained with the bamboo. A whole year passes by … and nothing. Still the farmer continued to water the seeds and fertilize the ground every day. Another year goes by … and still nothing. His neighbors laugh at him, they mock his vision and his dreams. He begins to question himself, doubt creeps into his mind, will the bamboo ever grow?

Another year goes by … and still nothing. Three years of pouring water, energy and hope into his bamboo dream and he has nothing to show for it. One day he stands over the spot and cries in frustration. The barren ground seems to mock him yet the wind whispers hope into his ear so the farmer picks himself up and continues to water the seeds and fertilize the ground. Another year goes by … but still nothing.

Five Years have passed, and our farmer is tired. He is tired of hauling buckets of water and feeding the seeds. He is tired of seeing no results day after day. Despair rocks his soul and tears fill his eyes and he arrives home feeling defeated. But, the farmer’s darkest hour is just before his dawn as the next day, a miracle happens. The farmer sees green sprouts coming out of the ground; he cannot contain his joy and runs through the village to share the news with his family. In 6 weeks, the bamboo trees grow to 90 feet tall!

Bamboo forest -5 years in the making – Photo by @freepik via

The Moral of the story

If the farmer had stopped watering the seeds and fertilizing the ground during those 5 years, the bamboo would have died in the ground without seeing the light of day.

If you have a vision and a dream you need the discipline to take care of your dream day after day after day even if you don’t see the result straight away.

Ignore people that tell you it cannot be done.
Learned to push back on your own doubts and fears.
Learn to have faith when there is no reason to believe.
Good things take time. To face adversity you need patience, dedication, perseverance and courage.

Life Can Be a Struggle

The journey to achieve your dream will not be perfect. You will encounter setbacks, disappointment, hurdles, and hardship. In those moments, don’t despair but try to look for solutions to your problems and a clear path to follow. Being in a state of confusion adds unnecessary pain and suffering, but being in a state of clarity, brings hope, joy, and happiness.

Clarity, see things as they are, not how you want them to be – Photo by @freepik via

How do you find Clarity?

  1. The first thing is to know yourself. According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to know yourself. You need to know where your strengths and weaknesses are so that you can exploit your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.
  2. The second thing is to understand human nature and why people do the things they do. Being able to make good decisions will require you to predict the future, accurately perceive your present situation and have insights into the mind of the people around you.
  3. The third thing is to practice the art of being still. You won’t know who you are if your mind is in constant state of agitation and occupied by mindless distractions. Moments of solitude allow you to be more tuned-in to your intuition. Stillness means to be steady while the world spins around you. Stillness can inspire new ideas, sharpen perspective and illuminate the mind.

If you do those 3 things you will find Clarity. Remember Your mind is like water. When it gets agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answers will become clear.

What Makes a Great Story?

So, what you want to be when you grow up? If you want your life to be a magnificent story, you will need clarity because clarity will make your thoughts, your emotions and your actions congruent with each other. Good stories include fun, joy and laughter, but also some drama, tears and sorrow. People like stories where a superhero does wonderful deeds. Try to be your own hero, not by wearing a cape, jumping from building to building trying to save the world, but by becoming a better person everyday shining your own light into the world. So, my dear daughters, I wish you good luck and fortune on your journeys, and hope that you write the best stories that have ever been told.

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How To Define Success?

Christopher Isaac “Biz” Stone is the Co-Founder of Twitter, who once said: “Timing, perseverance and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” But, how to define success? Is it a fluid concept? Well, I guess it depends a lot on who you are and what you want to achieve in life.

Being rich and famous would, you’d expect, put you in the category of those who made it to the top. However, if you look behind the glitz and showbiz appearance and behind the mansion’s door, what you’d see doesn’t always look like success. There are a lot of rich and famous people who are utterly miserable and unhappy. So, what’s the deal?

This article is my attempt to dig a little deeper into the subject and look at success from a different perspective.

Success Is an Iceberg

We have a tendency to describe certain successful people as lucky because they just happened to be born with a talent (that eludes the rest of us), and that talent and maybe a certain amount of luck, is what ultimately made them succeed. Certainly, talent and luck play a role, but if we look a little closer, we will find out, as Thomas Edison famously said, that “success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

Success is an iceberg. What people see on the surface: confidence, wealth, beauty, relationships, seniority, often don’t see what is hiding below: persistence, failure, sacrifice, disappointment, good habits, hard work and dedication. This is beautifully depicted by @sylviaduckworth.

Success is an Iceberg

Success is About Overcoming Adversity

Most people fantasize about being, successful, rich or famous, they want the outcome but are not so keen on the perspiration-part.

The motivational speaker Les Brown was very eloquent when he spoke about struggle and adversity. What he explained in one of his memorable motivational speeches is that one of the greatest tragedies of our time is the way we perceive success:

“that is the belief that successful people just happened to be successful because they were lucky enough to have been born with some talent and that talent is what go them there, and destiny is what brough them to the finishing line.

That belief is wrong, because that kind of thinking takes the journey, the struggles to get to the top of the mountain and the setbacks and the pain and the fear and throws is all out of the window.

It completely mitigates what is most important.

In the real world, it doesn’t matter who you are. You are never entitled to a result. Victory is a product of the fight and the biggest favor you can do yourself is to progress through life’s ups and down and keep fighting the fight.

Struggle is perfection in progress. It is a sign that you are in the midst of what separates the great from the average. It is a necessity and it the most important step you will ever take, because 99% of people cannot see past it. The world sees struggle and hardship as the time to pack their bags, to walk away, to be intimidated.”

According to Marcus Aurelius, the personification of the Stoic Movement, “our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. The Obstacle is the way.”

Success Is a Boat with a Captain and a Crew

Society measures success in material goods or status, but this is a very shallow and narrow definition of success, there is a lot more to it than that. Earl Nightingale also known as the Dean of Personal Development spent some time thinking about what success is and he came up with a pretty good definition of success: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or idea.” It means that any person regularly engaged in achieving something which they consider worthy is successful.

Earl Nightingale uses an analogy of a boat to explain this concept further:

“Without goals, you can spend a lifetime wandering aimlessly, letting yourself being carried in any direction that the crowds take you. Think of a ship in a harbor. There is a captain and there is a crew. Together they map the journey. They decide what route they are going to take, how long it will take, how many provisions they will have to take.  They make preparation for the voyage. This ship has a destination and will sail straight across the deep ocean of life reaching one port after another and it will get to its destination.”

Take another ship where there is no captain, no crew, no destination, and no preparation, this ship will likely end up nowhere, it may not even leave the port, or it may leave the port and be shipwrecked. Ultimately that ship is unlikely to succeed because it has no destination, no guidance, and it is the same with human beings.

To succeed on the deep ocean of your life remember to stay calm. Calmness is absolute confidence to be able to meet any crisis. The person who is calm has their course of life clearly marked on their chart. They have their hands on the helm and whether there is a storm or danger ahead, they are ready.

I am the Captain of my Ship

When and how you will reach your destination doesn’t matter. Focus on the process and not always on the outcome and follow the advice of Maya Angelou:

“Do the best you can every day … until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Success Is a Garden

To succeed, everything starts with an idea. “Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds, you can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.”

You need to know what you want to be and what you want to do. All you have to do is plant that seed in your mind and care for it by working steadily towards your goal and be sufficiently strong enough not to let setbacks defeat you in the accomplishment of your purpose.

“As you sow, so shall you reap” – Galatians, 6:7

The moment you start working on your goals, you are immediately a successful person, because you now belong to the very small percentage of people who know where they are going.

How to Define Success?

So, in summary, how to define success? Success is:

  • Success is an Iceberg.
  • Success is a boat with a captain and a crew.
  • Success is a garden.
  • Success is a schoolteacher because they want to be a teacher and feels a calling to be a teacher.
  • Success is a student who goes to school every day wanting to learn and develop themselves academically, physically, emotionally and socially by achieving good grades, by joining a sports team, by interacting with their friends and teachers in the pursuit of excellence with a caring attitude.
  • Success is a wife and mother because she wants to be a wife and mother dedicating herself to be the best wife and mother she can be.
  • Success is the working mother who dedicates herself to her professional career and also to raising her children (with some help) and doing both to the best of her abilities.
  • Success is a salesman who wants to become the top salesperson in his company and helps grow his organization.
  • Success is the corner shop owner who serves his community every day and who always wanted to have his own corner shop.
  • Success is the stay-at-home father who dedicates himself to raising his family whilst allowing his wife to pursue her career and being a supportive partner for his spouse.
  • Success is the family member who turned themselves into the main caregiver for a sick child, parent, or spouse dedicating their time to making that person’s day better.
  • Success is anyone who is deliberately doing a pre-determined job because they decided to do just that.

If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on