It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things. ― Leonardo da Vinci

Children have a way of reminding adults about determination and the sheer power held when a person persists. I am always amazed and impressed by my children and like most parents, stand in awe of their passions and pursuits. It’s funny and humbling how I’ve come to understand that my children are perhaps the motivation I needed long before they existed. Simply put, they’ve given me the best relatable lessons on determination that make the most sense to me.

My seven year old is a master at vulnerability, which is to say that she is not afraid of showing feelings and she embraces and understands empathy in a way that many adults still have yet to conquer. She is not afraid of public failure. Recently, she’s taken to celebrating her second grade teacher’s motto, “mistakes are art and how we learn.” To date, she has tried out for two different sports teams and failed to make them. Yes, she’s seven. We can debate American youth sports and the culture surrounding them later, but I will say that in both instances my child has cried, mourned the idea of being a part of something and feeling rejected, but then rallied to become better. She has handled these instances with more grace and grit than I have at forty. “I’ll just keep trying, mommy,” she says in her little voice filled with big emotion.

This past summer my five year old decided she wanted to take the deep water test at our local pool. She failed, but my God no one has ever failed with a bigger smile than this child. “I was so nervous to do it, but I did it, and that’s all that matters,” she shouted at me. She didn’t pass before the summer’s end, and it didn’t matter. For her, it was the idea that she was willing to try and fail that made her feel strong and capable.

My girls are determined. Some of it is natural, some of it is instilled, and a lot of it is the healthy perspective many children possess. This then partnered with their imagination, innocence, and wild determination not yet influenced by outside forces, is a remarkable thing to witness and experience.

I can be a jaded adult. I’ve felt the pain of humiliation and know the struggle of rejection. After all, I am a writer. Writers put their ideas on paper constantly only to be told, “no.” It’s a brutal path yet the only one I feel most certain of and committed to. For a long time, fear won over determination. But seeing my girls do their thing, determined AND joyful, I have begun to work on going out and making things happen as Leonardo da Vinci said.

To determination and lessons from children, I wish you well. Now go do something!