ABA Banking Journal - March 2011 - (Page 8)
editor’s column | by bill streeter
We could use a few more “control types”
Sometimes you come across
important principles in unexpected places. In the lead story in this month’s ABA Resources, for example, Laura Fisher, who runs the ABA Education Foundation, talks about the foundation’s Teach Children to Save Day. In her response to a question about the program’s impact, she says, “Teaching kids to save is a great opportunity to teach them self-control. And self-control tends to be more important than self-confidence in terms of a person’s long-term success.” Self-control more important than self-confidence? Absolutely Self-confidence is useful, but in today’s world where every child “excels,” or so they’re told, self-confidence is not lacking. Self-control is. Children, as it happens, become adults. No one expects children to have a lot of self-control, but a little encouragement in that direction early in life could make a huge difference. Take the recent financial crisis, brought by some of those adults. There didn’t appear to be any lack of confidence during the run-up. With all the hand-wringing, recriminations, investigations, and hoo-hah over what brought on the calamities of 2008-9, you don’t need to go any further than Fisher’s statement to find both the cause and the means to keep the calamities from repeating again (and again). Yes, we know the causes were very complex and involved regulatory laxity, incorrect incentives, technology, too much money looking for a return, “poor choices,” and so on. Those were all factors, of course. But when you dig a little deeper, you see that a lack of self-control on all sides was at the heart of the matter, as it almost always is. Meaning lack of control over emotions, thoughts, actions, and things that prompt people to “make poor choices,” such as… well, you can fill in a litany of examples. Sure, people are fallible. But wouldn’t it be better to treat that as a baseline from which to progress, rather than an unalterable condition? Plenty of people do try to exercise some self-control. They probably outnumber the rest. Even so, something as simple as encouraging children to save instills the discipline of putting aside money and not simply spending it the moment it arrives. That develops selfcontrol, which can only produce good results. Kids actually get this, which is why we should do everything to encourage it. If you want evidence, just check out the finalists in the ABA Education Foundation’s “Lights, Camera, Save!” contest on YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/TeachChildrenToSave). So thank you, Laura. You hit the nail on the head! n
In today’s world, self-confidence is not lacking. Self-control is firstname.lastname@example.org
8 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | march 2011
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