Updated: Oct 11, 2018
Lately, I have been spending my time trying to understand all that goes into developing hard
working, dedicated, and driven kids. Not just as a coach, but as a new father. Since becoming a
dad, this area of knowledge has been really pressing on my heart. I am hit with the question of
how much control do I have over how my child turns out. Will he be hardworking? A go getter?
Proactive? Or will he be lazy, careless, and whatever else I am afraid of him becoming? And if I
don’t want him to grow up being the latter, how do I do my part to make sure that doesn’t
First of all, to find the answer to this pressing question, we need to understand the ‘Why’
behind the question. Why does it matter if a kid is hard working, dedicated and driven? Have
you pressed into that question? Does it harm anyone if they are not? What does it even mean
to be hard working, dedicated and driven? Take a second and think about these questions. If
you ask me, my answer is quite simple. Creating driven kids is important because it’s essential
that each child is ready to face the realities of life and is ready to adapt. Failures, setbacks,
rejections, obstacles and difficulties are all a part of life and we must be doing our part to give
our kids the tools they need to face these challenges.
I recently watched a youtube video by a speaker named Rasmus Ankersen who spoke on the
“The Parent Factor” from his book "The Gold Mine Effect". In this video he talked about how
parents directly play a role in whether a child becomes successful or not based on the level of
push they give that child. Some may agree or disagree with his point of view on this matter,
which is fine, but I believe he’s onto something that we all should consider. In his video, he also
talked about how a child’s default setting would be to do nothing or just play video games, if
this child is not pushed to do other things.
This led me to look into my own upbringing. I wanted to see if the way I am today has anything
to do with how I was or was not pushed when I was a kid. Surprisingly enough, there’s plenty of
evidence. I was raised in a very tough and hard working family. I could share many stories, but
the one that really sticks out are the summer vacations I spent with my grandmother. During
the summer, when school was out and my friends were enjoying themselves, I remember
spending my summer in the village with my grandparents, mainly with my grandmother.
Without electricity or TV, bedtimes were quite early and so were mornings. Five or sometimes
six out of the seven days were spent on a farm. We would leave early in the morning, walk
miles just to get the farm and work all day until evening. I would then either carry a stack of
wood, log for fire, or anything needed for that evening, on my head and walk miles back home.
Upon arriving home, I would help my grandmother cook before cleaning and heading to bed,
waking up to do this all over again the next morning.
Most summers before I came to the U.S. this was how I spent my summer vacation. It was
anything but fun. Anyone who has ever worked on a farm will tell you, this is no joke. Now,
imagine having to walk miles before you arrive at the farm without advanced tools. We were
either sowing something, reaping something, digging something, cutting or plowing something
on many acres of land. Not going, was never an option. I was often reminded by my grandmother
what a man is supposed to do. She would say “men shouldn’t complain so much” or “a man
should always work hard” or “you will sleep when you die”.
I hated every minute of how my summers were spent growing up. Now, looking back, I credit a
lot of my work ethic, dedication, and drive to those painful summers. It was an adversity and a
painful one at that. I was placed outside of my comfort zone, outside of my element, without
any fun things to do for three months out of the year for a few years and today there’s not a
thing I can’t do that I choose to do. As I grew older and built upon the work ethic I learned as a
kid during those summers, I learned an appreciation for hard work. I believe this is what it takes
to develop these characteristics in a child. As often as you can, allow your child to go into an
unfamiliar environment where they will be tested. Allow them to struggle for a bit and give
them the chance to rise up as I had to. The more you teach them to fend for themselves, do
hard things and work hard while doing it, the better a work ethic they will have as they grow
So, what did I learn from my childhood that I will try to pass on to my children? I will get them out of
their comfort zone as much and as often as I can, I will give them the right amount of push they
need to go beyond what they think their limits are, and I will be there to encourage them especially
in the times when quitting will seem like an option. I will allow them to do for themselves and not
always step in to make things more fun or less hard for them. I will give them the gift of
opportunities to grow as a person and to learn how to do the hard things and work hard while
I often hear parents say, I want to give my child what I never had. I say be careful what you
mean by that, you just might have to keep giving it for as long you live.
Kokou Assigbe, Coaching Director at World Class Premier