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Win at the starting line

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (June 7, 2014)

My new year’s resolution this year was to be able to run 10k. For someone non-sporty like me, it’s quite a stretch! I haven’t been able to achieve it yet but I’m working hard on it. And since I am so new to running, I have been asking my marathon-running friends for their advice. I’ve had them teach me about the right way to train, the best shoes to buy, the posture I should run with and also the pace that I should run at. I’ve heard lots of different advice but one I’ve consistently heard is that you should pace yourself so that you have enough energy towards the end of the race to actually finish it. I was told that I shouldn’t sprint at the beginning only to collapse before getting to the finish line. At the beginning of the race, you should start slower and go at your own pace and save enough energy to push harder towards the end.

Many people have started to use the phrase ‘win at the starting line’ with regards to raising a child. The premise is that if we start our children off with the right start, they are more likely to do well and be ahead of the others. If they can get into the right playgroups and learn as many languages as they can, play as many sports as they can, learn as many Chinese idioms as they can – all before they hit the age of 2 – then they are off to a good start. Since this perspective uses the analogy of a race, I would like to share my perspectives on running this race called life.

1) Everyone is unique

I have talked to lots of different people about running races and they give me lots of different advice and share with me different things that work for them. They like different shoes to wear, different times of day to train, different postures of running to have. All that goes to show that everyone is unique and different things work for different people. In the same way, each child is unique and is created to be special in their own way. Each child has a unique personality, learning style, developmental growth rate and different gifts and talents. With all the comparisons that go on between parents about their children, I hope that they don’t forget that every child learns at a different pace and is good at different things. One child might be able to have 10 after school activities a week and thrive but another might crumble under the stress. Just because they don’t excel at the starting line, doesn’t mean they won’t do well during the race.