Sticking to it

I hear a lot of people say they wish their children showed more ability to stick with things.  I was reminded of this as I was reading Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide.  Lehrer mentions an accomplished chess player who “managed to turn a childhood obsession with chess into a lucrative career.”

I wonder if part of the reason we often find kids lacking in commitment and discipline is that we’re looking for it in too narrow a range of pursuits.  We’d like them to stick with the books they start, to work harder on their major and minor scales, but we don’t necessarily want them to spend too much time playing the same game over and over or talking to their friends on the phone.

What if kids know where to look for their own paths to discipline and commitment?  (The path part is important – sustainable pursuits don’t tend to drop themselves into one’s lap; they tend to be uncovered in the course of at least some exploration.)  What if their paths just don’t look familiar enough to us to seem like they’re about discipline and commitment?