I love what I do 
and do what I love
because my parents told me I could.
They paid attention to the things that mattered to me as a kid,
steering me towards activities and experiences that lit me up from the inside out.

I thrived in leadership roles
from emceeing the kindergarten talent show to being Student Council president.
They celebrated every opportunity I had to organize and uplift others.

I craved creative expression,
so they signed me up for theater camp, songwriting camp, writing classes, church choir.

I just knew in my bones
I would be a rock star and marry Jon Bon Jovi,
so I took guitar lessons and, at 16, saved enough money to record my own demo tape
in a studio with professional musicians.
My parents never laughed or smirked or questioned any of it
{in fact, my dad brought me to my first Bon Jovi concert in 1989!}.

I had an incredible advantage as a kid,
growing up with a teacher-activist mom and a youth development psychologist for a dad.
They knew – before the science proved it – that every kid has innate passions
that need to be cultivated and celebrated
in order for that kid to thrive.

My dad calls them sparks.
For decades, he has led his team of social scientists at Search Institute
in the study of what kids need to succeed. 
He is a leading authority on positive psychology as it pertains to kids – 
focusing on their grand potential instead of their risk factors.

The video above features my dad – Dr. Peter Benson – delivering his TED Talk about sparks.
The film had its world premiere last week at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
If you have 20 minutes
and you have a kid, know a kid or believe in the potential of kids,
I hope you watch it.
I think it’s a pretty beautiful thing.