The other night my 6-year old daughter, Uma, and I were relaxing on my bed before it was time to say good night. We were reading, chit-chatting, and enjoying each other’s company. At one point, I looked over and asked her, “Uma, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And as soon as the words left my mouth, I was struck by the absurdity of them.

It’s a question I was asked many times growing up and it’s a question I hear many others ask. It seems innocent enough right up until you actually HEAR the words you’re asking, which I had done a thousand times before.

“What (or who) do you want to be when you grow up?”

Here’s the problem. What I want my daughter to be when she grows up is Uma! I want her to be more of herself. Not identify her worth through what she does for a living but, rather, through showing up and being all of herself each and every day of her life. I don’t know about you but I’ve become exhausted by having to identify myself to others by what I “do” for a living rather than how I have impacted the world. Or for how I have influenced others. I don’t think it should be any surprise why people are killing themselves over their jobs – they simply want to BE someone GRAND. And our society has given them no other way to achieve that than through these limited means.

I propose we “do” something different. Lets stop asking our children what they want to be when the grow up. They want to be themselves. It’s us asking moronic questions like these that quiet their inner force. Instead, lets ask, “How would you like to impact this world?”  or “What influence would you like to have on others… this planet …the animals …your community …your family and friends?

I think then we’ll have some interesting conversations! And I plan to take these with me to the next dinner party I attend. (if you see me there, consider yourself warned)

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Halley Bock is the author and founder of Life, Incorporated.

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