We live in an age of super-fast everything. Food is fast (and we all know how great that’s turning out to be). Rather than a new outfit taking days and weeks to be crafted to your specifications (by you!), nipping out to the local store is a quick and easy matter. In fact, these outings have become the new “family time”, replacing picnics and walks and leisurely evenings reading by the fire. No, wait. In place of reading books by the fire, we now have movies. Masses of them. Thousands of hours of viewing churned out each year, designed to drain our creativity and squash our creativity! (I’ll level with you: I’m a movie junkie as much as the next exhausted Mama, and while I do recognise the impact of watching TV for hours on my productivity, I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it. That’d be plain hypocritical.)
We also live in an age of over-achievement. In fact, over-achievement has practically become a jaded cliché with the amount of press it’s had over the last few decades. It’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring success by what you know, what you can do, and what you earn when you’re grown up. This is at least as true for education as it is for any aspect of life – if not more so. We expect our learners to learn huge swathes of information, and to learn it fast. The faster they can acquire knowledge, the more successful they are.
Success is who you are.
Every other metric can change at any time, and often the change can be the result of factors entirely outside of your control. Who you are, and how you respond to the trials of life, are the true measure of the success of your life.
This kind of success is a deep success. It’s built slowly, incrementally, over time. It involves experiencing some of those trials for yourself, overcoming challenges of your own, and gradually, over time, with patience and compassion, developing a strong, rooted resilience that is free from bitterness.
Each set back becomes a stepping stone. Each challenge becomes a cornerstone. Each fight becomes a foundation. The whole is held together with forgiveness: a binding mortar that makes the structure you’re building stronger than any sense of injustice or revenge ever could.
And this growth takes time.
When you’re building lives like this, it becomes really important to slow down. Each moment needs to be assessed for it’s potential to be a moment of blinding insight and life-changing wisdom. You simply can’t do it fast. But you can do it well. Whether you’re educating your children at home, raising them within a more conventional school structure, or even if you’re trying to find the path to your own personal success, true success is measured not by how well you avoid the hard times life throws at you, but by how well you respond to those hard times when they happen. And it takes time to develop this kind of strong, deep success.
There’s no fast-food solution to life-long learning.
Read more about slow education here. Please tell me what you think about the real measure of success. How has your own life borne out (or changed) your personal philosophy of what success is really all about?