A recent feature in Fast Company, titled “A day in the life of Reese Witherspoon,” offers some insight not only into the actress and entrepreneur’s daily routine, but also into her feelings on “brutal honesty.”
Here’s Witherspoon, as told to Mary Kaye Schilling: “I feel like I’m constantly counteracting pressure from the parents who want to make the lives of their kids golden and magical at all moments! Guess what, kids? You’re going to be disappointed and uncomfortable once in a while.”
Witherspoon shares a personal example of how she took the faux gold and magic out of parenting:
“I remember Ava [her daughter, now 19 years old] crying in bed in third grade — she was on JV basketball and she was the only kid on the team who didn’t score. I said, ‘Aves, maybe you’re bad at basketball.’ She thought that was mean. I said, ‘Mean or true? ‘Cause, guess what? Your mom’s bad at basketball, too.’ “
Witherspoon isn’t the only parent who’s talked up the benefits of being candid with their kids. On Parenting.com, Janelle Hanchett, author of “I’m Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering,” writes that she told her daughter (coincidentally, also named Ava) she wasn’t good at sports.
Hanchett remembers explaining to Ava, “You’re in 5th grade and read Charles Dickens. That ain’t normal. But you’ve done it without even trying. … But all of us also have things that we are NOT naturally good at. If we want to get good at those things, we absolutely can, but we have to put in twice the effort of the people around us to get to the decent point and even harder if we want to excel.”
Apparently, Ava got the drift.
Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses
Even if you’re not brutally honest with others about their shortcomings, being honest with yourself is important. In anotherFast Company article, Mike Templeman, founder of Foxtail Marketing, writes that “you shouldn’t be bogged down by your weaknesses that have no bearing on you becoming a huge success.”
Sometimes, being aware of your weaknesses can help you capitalize on them, instead of ignore them. (I’ll refer you to the idea of the fixed versus growth mindset.)
In his book “Barking Up the Wrong Tree,” Eric Barker wrote that some of the world’s most successful people have achieved fame and glory because of — not in spite of — their eccentricities. For example, Michael Phelps has an unusual body type, which makes him an outstanding swimmer, but probably not a great runner.
As Hanchett writes on Parenting.com, it’s important to let your kids know they aren’t the best at everything. “Wouldn’t she [Hanchett’s daughter] also think the world should be working for her? There’s a word for that. It’s called ‘entitled.'”