Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Almost two decades ago, heartbroken and single, I wrote out a list that described the man of my dreams. Less than two years later, my husband and I married, proving that dreams do indeed come true (yes, he met and even exceeded all criterion).

As a child, I spent hours staring up into the sky, watching the clouds, dreaming of what might be one day. As I grew older, I became more grounded in reality -- the reality of college, graduate school, working and children.

As my husband and I have watched our children (now 12 and 14) grow, the importance of dreams and their ability to drive action, and therefore results, has become more evident, and I've begun to once again fall in love with my dreams. Dreams not only for myself, but more importantly, for our family.

Michael Bond's March 6, 2014, article in New Scientist Magazine, "The Science of Success: Blood, or Sweat and Tears?" caught my eye. I'm constantly on the lookout for ideas and information regarding children's development. Bond covered academic research regarding what leads to success. Is it nature or nurture, teachers or parents, environment or genetics? Bond concluded that the answer was not simply black and white -- that both nature and nurture played a role.

According to Bond, innate talent matters, but so too does consistent practice. Intelligence matters, but so too does grit, or "the willpower to see something through to the end," Bond claims. "It involves hard work, and the resisting of distracting desires and impulses."

Standardized testing and centralized education ended up in Bond's crosshairs. While equal opportunity is often cited as the goal regarding education, Bond points out, "not only are some people more talented than others, but people also have talents in different areas. Yet if all children are taught the same things in the same way, only some will have a chance to excel ... Almost all the psychologists and development experts contacted by New Scientist favor a school system that caters to a broader range of talents and interests, and focuses less on measures and targets ... What doesn't help, say the experts, is introducing yet more standardized tests."

"Encourage dreaming? That may not seem like a recipe for success to some, but it is perhaps the most important factor of all," wrote Bond. "U.S. psychologist Ellis Paul Torrance followed the lives of several hundred creative high-achievers from high school into middle age ... Most important of all, he thought, was to 'fall in love with a dream,' preferably at a young age, and then pursue it with intensity."


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.