Brent CooperI often hear that kids aren’t living up to their full potential. With all the distractions – video games, internet, TV, smart phones, texting, email, etc. – how do we motivate our children to excel in all they do?

In one of his many books, Dr. Wayne Dyer recounts his days as a young boy working for the local grocery store. He was a bagger, or “box boy” as it was then called, loading groceries into bags and placing them into customers’ shopping carts. He made it his personal goal to ensure that none of his covered checkers would have to pack a single grocery item while he was working. Dyer categorized fellow box boys as 1-baggers, 2-baggers or 3-baggers – referring to the number of checkers managed during their shift. His aim was to be a 3 or 4-bagger, covering up to 4 checkers and moving like a whirlwind between them.

Many of us have experienced both types of workers: the disinterested sales clerk barely able to ring up your order let alone answer questions about store products, and the engaged employee who knows the inventory, answers your questions, and gets things done promptly and courteously. This employee is proud of their work, wants to be of service, and strives to be their best.

So how do we encourage our children to be this type of employee – the one who strives for excellence? Why would a child or teenager bother to become a 3 or 4-bagger? Because by taking a stand in all you do, you are announcing to the world your intention and action of pursuing a course of excellence in your life. But how is this going to improve your life?

When we are a 3 or 4-bagger, we become fully engaged and present in the activities at hand. What once was a boring, menial job, becomes a satisfying, fully-engaging activity. One is no longer in the world of “Tick Tock”, as metaphysical author Stuart Wilde loves to call the stress-filled, desire-seeking, never-at-peace, clock-watching world in which most of us exist daily.

If you are a young Wayne Dyer, you pay attention to the flow of activities around you–groceries rolling on the conveyor belt, the movements of the checkers and market customers in line. Not only are you in tune with the flow of activities around you, but you are an integral part of the flow.

When I was a child, my mother took us to the Farmer’s Market. There I would enjoy all the craftsmen at work – the glassblower making beautiful, delicate glass unicorns, dolphins and sea horses; or the baker squeezing out perfect pink elephants onto a white layer cake. Even as a child, I knew I was observing excellence. There was something magical about how these tradesmen delighted in making everything perfectly – and in turn, it made me want to achieve excellence.

There is something captivating – even mind-altering – about excellence. By taking charge of your situation, and striving to be the best, it is impossible to become a victim. You realize that no outside force determines your level of achievement – the decision is all yours.

So, teach your children to take a stand right now. Teach them that when they are work-proud, they will feel proud. When they do the best job that they can – whether in school, work or life, they will feel their best. Introduce them to places and people who also strive to achieve excellence. When they are engaged in life through the pursuit of excellence, they have the greatest chance of reaching their full potential.

Brent M. Cooper, Licensed Educational Psychologist is the Director of the El Paseo Children’s Center for Psychological & Educational Assessment. He specializes in conducting assessments for children, adolescents and adults who may have Learning Disabilities, ADHD, or Autism. He also provides counseling and life coaching. Brent can be reached at 760-342-4900 or visit his website at

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