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Parents, the best graduation gift you can give your child is this

Stedman Graham

It’s that time of year when all across the country high school seniors will “move the tassel” and become high school graduates. For millions of these young men and women, the next stop will be college and preparing for their lives as adults.

And yet 25 percent of those who go on to graduate from college, according to Gallup, will fail to thrive in their overall careers and lives, because they are unprepared emotionally and experientially for the real world.

Mothers and fathers – the best graduation gift you can give your child is a set of keys—not to a new car—but keys to self-leadership, a trait that can make the difference in the quality of their personal and professional lives and their prospects for purposeful success.

What parent want his or her child to finish college unprepared for today’s world and then work below their full potential? No parent wants that.

Those who develop the self-leadership and self-actualization necessary to be an effective leader in today’s rapidly changing world, I call them Identity Leaders.

Identity Leadership is self-leadership based on the philosophy that you cannot lead others until you first lead yourself. Before deciding what to do in life, your children must first understand who they are, what influences their lives, and why they think and act the way they do.

For more than 30 years, I have written books, taught in colleges, worked in communities, led nonprofits and conducted workshops around the world. In all that time, I have come to be absolutely certain that leadership is everything.

Understanding the power of Identity Leadership has never been more important, especially given that we live in a time of great technological and social change, where traditional family values are being reshaped, globalization threatens jobs, climate change threatens the planet, and the exponential acceleration of technology is leaving many behind the competition.

The facts bear it out. Gallup estimates that American businesses lose $350 to $400 billion a year because 70 percent of the U.S. workforce is disengaged and not working at their full potential.

I’ve spent all my life trying to figure out how to realize my potential. Here is the 9-step process that I have found helps you learn how to organize your life, find purpose, work with passion and self-actualize your potential:

1. CHECK YOUR IDENTITY:  Before deciding what to do in life, you must first understand who you are and what influences your life, thoughts and behaviors.

2. CREATE YOUR VISION:  Your vision is your life’s destination. A well-defined vision helps you find meaningful and achievable goals. Design a powerful future based on possibility rather than circumstance.

3. DEVELOP YOUR TRAVEL PLAN:  In order to fulfill your vision, you must create a plan of action. By working toward goals via a solid plan of action based on your identity, you learn to assert power over your life.

4. MASTER THE RULES OF THE ROAD. Guidelines keep you on track as you engage in the pursuit of betterment and learn to use the positive powers of honesty, hard work, determination and other solid values to guide you as you journey to achieve your dreams.

5. STEP INTO THE OUTER LIMITS. To grow, you have to leave your comfort zone, confront fears and take risks. Learn how to overcome fear and step outside of what has become comfortable and familiar to you.

6. PILOT THE SEASONS OF CHANGE. If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting the same results. Learn how to create change and, even more importantly, how to manage your responses to change.

7. BUILD YOUR DREAM TEAM. No one makes it alone. Learn how to build supportive relationships to help you work toward your goals. You learn the value of trust and the importance of being trustworthy.

8. WIN BY A DECISION. Who you are in this world is largely the result of decisions you have made in the past. Learn how to make the right choices for your future in order to overcome life’s greatest and most worthy challenges.

9. COMMIT TO YOUR VISION. When you devote your time and energy on a consistent basis to the pursuit of your goals and your vision, you discover that commitment is something you live by and you realize that you renew it each and every day.

Becoming an Identity Leader provides a foundation for growth and creates a self-directed learning process. It leads to work-life balance, helps to develop strong relationships, performance improvement and improves time management.

As a parent, you want your child to live a life of passion, purpose and success. Encouraging them to become Identity Leaders is the best gift you give them as they move the tassel, move on to college or straight into a meaningful adult life.


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