Search For the Shine


Benjamin Zander, is a famous orchestra conductor and he says, “I have a definition of success. For me, it's very simple. It's not about wealth and fame and power. It's about how many shining eyes I have around me.” He describes shining eyes as the look in the face of his musicians when they find the thing they love, the instrument, the music, the role that makes them come alive and gives space for their greatest strengths to shine and their passions to come alive. This is the goal of great leadership and we couldn’t agree more! Our goal as parents is to help our kids find the combination of strengths and passions that lights them up and sets them ablaze.

It took me some time to adjust my vision to see the shine in my kids eyes through the haze of action and attitudes my kids presented. Yet, as I trained my eyes to look past the clutter, there it was! For Bailee it was on the stage. For Lance it was taking apart a toy and rebuilding a new invention. Yet without a doubt, there it was, the shine in their eyes was unmistakable.

So now it’s your turn. Think about your precious children. At whatever stage you can remember. When did you the see the shine in their eyes? It might help to liken this to the look you saw in their faces when they were especially joyful. Perhaps it was the first trip to a special place like Disneyland. Or when you surprise them on Christmas or their birthday with the certain gift they asked for repeatedly.

This look is like that but slightly different. Instead of a momentary expression of delight, this look remains. It comes back at moments when they are engaged in an activity. Describe what they did or how they did it. What comes to mind?


Think about your toddlers. If you have some at this stage now, play time is an excellent place to look first. Can you see the shine as they play with a certain toy? What about watching certain programs? Or how about being read certain stories or visiting with certain friends or family? If your kids are past this stage, take a moment of reflection and look back. What seemed to attract their attention? What made their eyes shine the brightest?


Now for the school age kids. We are into school at this point and we can begin to see their eyes shine as they engage in certain subjects they enjoy more than others. When you ask about school, try being specific. What is it about Math you like so much? You really seemed to enjoy that project, can you tell me how come this one was so enjoyable?

In addition to school, we have entered the realm of organized activities. Sports and the Arts provide great clues into the talents and passions in our kids. Which sports especially keep your child motivated. These are the activities they are most eager to engage in. What about piano lessons or Martial Arts, do you see them shine here? What about technology? Perhaps there is a video game your child is especially fond of, or a genre of game. Which ones? Videos are as much a clue as spending time with friends or engaging in activities can be.

If your kids are out of this stage, consider back to when they were here. What do you remember?


For our teens, we have arrived at the stage where things could become really clear. Or, where the journey becomes a bit challenging. Teens have more choices and more autonomy to inform the shine in their eyes. School, sports, clubs, bands, recreation, hobbies, all give us places to look. Have you seen the shine in your teens eyes? Before asking them, (this will come later), what do you see? When do you see their eyes shine?


We think of this stage starting in the senior year of high school. But for some children they may enter the responsibility of the young adult stage a bit earlier or later than senior year. The hope is at this stage is that you AND your young adult BOTH have a good idea of what makes their eyes shine. Perhaps it was found in the major they selected for college. Or perhaps in a cause they serve and support. Perhaps you see it around the house, or you can visualize their shining eyes in aspects of their job. Take a moment and write down your impressions of what makes their eyes shine.

Ok! So now we have some ideas jotted down about the kids. How about you? What makes your eyes shine? Are there parts of your career that you particularly enjoy and look forward to? Or perhaps it happens when you are serving. If you are married, see if you can identify the shine for both you and your spouse. It is impossible to measure success or live a strengths based lifestyle if you have yet to identify the talents and passions that make light you - or your child - up! Discover the shine and invest more there.

Brandon Miller