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How do you define success and where does personal motivation come from?

Jessica Lahey is a law school graduate, writer, educator, speaker, and researcher. Her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed (Harper Books) is about how to motivate kids, the different types of motivation, how to avoid overparenting, and how to give your kids the right amount of autonomy.

Her work has been influenced by the work of Carol Dweck and Dr. Dweck’s book, Mindset. This book is also one of my favorites as well. It’s about growth versus fixed mindset and that the amount of intelligence or talent we have in our lives is actually not fixed.

There are two types of motivation; extrinsic motivation (getting rewarded for achieving a goal like paying kids for grades or even a medal for getting on the podium) and intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is doing a task for the love and the personal satisfaction of hard work and best effort.

Jessica says “A-F grades are a disaster because it gives parents and teachers no information.” She elaborates on the best way to approach grades with children to raise intrinsically motivated kids; motivated to learn for the sake of learning.

She believes in teaching people to feel competent and confident so that they feel like that can approach harder tasks. The language around how we talk about achievements is an important way to change the mindset about learning and awards.

This episode is not only for parents, but for everyone. I personally do not have children at I found both her book and this conversation to be helpful in my daily life!

Jessica is a wealth of knowledge.  Make sure you check out her website, articles, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with her!  She also cohosts a podcast, #AMWriting.


Ungifted by Scott Berry Kaufman

Jessica’s articles

College That Change Lives

Mindset by Carol Dweck


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My next big race mentioned in the outro:

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