Everybody – parents, teachers, and everybody else – needs to read Sir Ken Robinson’s latest book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. If nothing else, watch one of his short TED presentations on the subject of reforming education so we focus more on what gifts each individual has and how to help develop these. He gives numerous examples of individuals who became very successful in life, but perhaps discovered their “thing” at various stages – some quite late in life. I believe we have done a poor job of helping children explore to see what their true passions and gifts might be (frankly, it rarely involves algebra or diagramming sentences), and many kids only find out accidentally. Parents, do everything you can to let your children try different things and see what interests them. Encourage them, find opportunities for them, help them pursue what they enjoy. It’s a good bet this can lead to their direction in life. Got a kid who loves subways or train maps? They could become a transportation engineer or urban planner. Video game freak? They can design, program, or do graphic design for games. Does your kid love to analyze sports? People get paid a lot of money to follow, analyze, and report on athletics. The list goes on and on…so get started.