An Essential Life Skill Every Child Needs To Learn

There are many crucial skills required in a child’s life, but the very core competency that they must possess is perseverance – The ability to commit oneself to something for a long period of time in spite of obstacles. This is because “compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe” wrote Albert Einstein. When your accumulation reaches an inflection point, your progress and result will grow exponentially, but the growth tends to be slow and hard at the beginning. Hence, perseverance is the key to unlocking the door to success. Here are three stories. We believe that after you read them, you will have a deeper understanding of why perseverance is an essential life skill for your child to learn.

Story 1: Do you believe folding paper can get you to the moon? 

People were scoffed at this thought in the past, exclaiming that a single sheet of paper was simply too thin to have its thickness reach the moon after only a few dozen folds, which they were clearly imagining a linear increase in thickness. Whereas, numerous researchers indicated that it was completely feasible that the doubling of the thickness with each fold would result in an exponential increase in thickness, which would increase slowly at first before quickly getting larger. If you do the math, a standard sheet of paper is about 0.1 mm so 42 folds would give us this: 0.1 * 2^(42) = 439,804 kilometers. The moon on average is 384,400 kilometers from Earth. So obviously, folding over a piece of paper 42 times can actually get you to the moon. And that’s the power of compound interest.

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Story 2: How long does it take for a lily pad to grow to half the size of the pond?

Suppose a pond has one lily pad, which doubles each day. Given that on the 30th day, the lily pad has covered the entire pond. How long does it take for a lily pad to grow to half the size of the pond? 15 days? NO! The answer is 29 days. On the day before the 30th, the pond was only half covered, but within a day, it was completely covered by lily pads. Does it sound magical? But it’s a true story.


Story 3: Why was 99% of Warren Buffett’s wealth earned after his 50th birthday? 

Warren Buffett earned 99% of his wealth after his 50th birthday, that’s incredible. Meaning that he earned only 1% of his wealth since he started the investment (11 years old) until he turned to the age of 50 years old. So what does Warren Buffett do to make his wealth grow so explosively?

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According to Warren Buffett’s 2008 letter to shareholders, the Dow Jones industrial average made an excellent ascent in the 20th century from the level of 66 in 1900 to 11,497 in 1999. However, for the compound rate of return, it’s as low as 5.3%. To make it easier to understand, imagine if you have a thousand dollar, and it grows only 53 dollars every year, which isn’t the growth rate that favored by many investors. Although the growth rate is low at the beginning, as long as it continues to grow steadily, as time goes by, the rate of return will be significant. So back to the question again, is there any secret recipe for Warren Buffett’s success? There is NONE. All he does is to do simple things over and over again, keeping the small but steady growth. He has been adhering to this rate of return for decades, and that also made him an investment legend.

From these stories, we see the importance of perseverance to one’s success and to our children’s future success. As such, to help develop grit in our children, parents should teach them the importance of being perseverance in life, and you could teach them by examples, share your story of how you set small goals to help you reach bigger ones. What’s more, remember to remind them that it’s ok to fail – they get to try again. Children may not be great at everything the first time, but it’s sticking with the goal that is most important.

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