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Potential maximisation: Attributes of desire

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Desire is putting motivation into action. Whether you are deaf or not, Desire creates social or career achievements.

Desire is strongly linked with direction and commitment. A lack of focus can cause a never-ending cycle of discarded projects replaced with new projects. People caught in this cycle feel the energy of a new dream, tackle it passionately with purpose, but are discouraged when encountering obstacles. The initial enthusiasm not only wanes, but is “found” again in a new project. The cycle repeats. Desire is misused. Little is achieved.

The riddle of success cannot be solved by attitude, but by aptitude for Desire. The word attitude has an emotional meaning (e.g., “Just do it!”). But aptitude is practical. The aptitude for Desire includes operating within personal limitations, self-sacrifice, use of intelligence, hard work and maintaining patience through difficult times. No one is born with this aptitude. It is learned, practiced, and then mastered.

Fostering Desire 

The last edition of this column asked, “What are your child’s passions and interests?” Listing these strengths provides a start for understanding and fostering your child’s own unique aptitude for Desire.

Elizabeth and Tony and their 16-year-old son Tristan shall be our example. Severely deaf since three years of age, Tristan is a sociable guy. He makes others feel comfortable with his deafness by reciting jokes and vignettes from television shows and movies. But there is a problem in the family. The parents are frustrated with Tristan’s refusal to contemplate his future. And he resists their hopes of forging a career in politics as both parents have done.

His parents know that extra motivation will likely improve their bright son’s reasonable grades. Tristan has a unique passion for Egyptian, Mayan and Incan archeology – which interests neither parent.

Elizabeth and Tony want to channel Tristan’s Desire into a clear direction, but are not sure where to start.

The following thought map was adopted from Dr. Bob Montgomery and Lynette Evans’ “You and Stress”(1984). It shows how Tristan’s Desire can be into practice over time. Any parent can use this thought map to help their own child. The authors advise you to keep the six steps separate. Set aside a different time to reflect, assess and complete each step. This is crucial for clarifying the problem-solving procedure.

Define the problem

Uncooperative when discussing his future, Tristan fears leaving the comforts of home. His tight knit group of school friends will soon leave Townsville to attend university elsewhere. Tristan needs realistic career goals and to choose subjects for his senior year that would help him achieve his goals.

Brainstorm possible solutions 

Brainstorming involves writing down whatever comes to mind. It is a sifting process that gives us a sense of realistic and unrealistic solutions. The following four points are realistic solutions that Elizabeth and Tony brainstormed to help Tristan:

  • Talk with other parents to see how they have planned their children’s post-high school aspirations.
  • Read biographies or autobiographies of other individuals who are deaf to better understand their career and social issues.
  • Re-assess their thinking about Tristan’s career potential. 
  • Encourage each other to determine possible solutions.

The brainstorming stage occurred over a month. New ideas were gained from other parents and from the reading of biographies or autobiographies. The parents therefore got a better “feel” for the possible outcomes their son could pursue. Given this information, they could now evaluate possibilities.

Evaluate Possibilities

The parents realised that Tristan would not likely forge a career in politics. Tristan had his own unique aptitudes, which became clearer after drawing a table of his academic strengths and weaknesses.

Graphic Design Architecture
Maths and numbers

The weaknesses/dislikes column shows Tristan’s limitations. Pursuing these subjects would be cumbersome and problematic. The strengths/passions column, however, clarifies the subjects in which Tristan’s Desire is best served. The parents could “see” how all the subjects had some relationship with archeology. Armed with this knowledge, the parents could now move onto the next step and agree on a solution.

Agree on a solution

Elizabeth and Tony found that archeology was a realistic and exciting career goal. It is a research-based profession that bypasses many deafness-related limitations. Also, Tristan’s love for archeology was endless. Elizabeth and Tony then made a decision to consult with their son, but first he would need to be “sold” on the idea.

Plan the solution

Elizabeth and Tony took Tristan to an ancient Egyptian exhibition. Over lunch, Tony asks Tristan, “Would you like to be an archeologist?” Amazed, the son replies “Yes” without thinking. Elizabeth smiles, “We’ll have to do something about that, won’t we?”

Implement the plan

Capturing the essence of a passion alone is not enough. A plan must be implemented in order for Desire to become a reality. Elizabeth, Tony and Tristan could then:

  • Ask a deafness-related organization if they could put them into contact with an archeologist who is deaf. This archeologist may provide short term advice, or even mentor, Tristan.
  • Talk with Tristan’s teachers about incorporating aspects of archeology into his schoolwork. Tristan should also enroll in subjects that cater to his academic strengths.
  • Consult with the school careers counselor to find universities and entry requirements for an undergraduate degree in archaeology.

In all, this complex issue took weeks to solve. The first two steps required much erasing, re-writing and re-thinking by the parents. These steps helped to concentrate their energies. At the third step, they realised that imposing their passions onto him, rather than considering his own, had been a major source of conflict. This epiphany made the fourth step, selection of the solution, easier. The last two steps involved Tristan in the decision-making process and provided simpler answers to previously complex questions.

Nurturing your child’s Desire has vital long term outcomes. Studies have shown that children from supportive, encouraging and unified families deal better with adversity than children without this nurturing environment. Identifying your child’s passions and strengths requires communication, listening and, sometimes, putting your ego aside. Once recognised, your child’s Desire can then be channelled into proactive activities rather than left to chance. Your guidance is essential. In time, your child’s Desire will likely create a life-force of its own.

Remember: The future is not where we are heading, but what we ourselves create. 


Desire is the second of eight themes that create Psychosocial Potential Maximization. The exercise discussed is your practical application of Desire.


Use the six-step thought map to help solve a current problem for your child. This could be an educational, social or career matter.

The following question prepares you for the next column’s theme of Goal Orientation.


Are there any friends or family who can provide your child with paid employment while at school?

“When correctly encountered, a disability becomes a stimulus that impels towards a higher achievement…Those who have attained remarkable success in life have often been handicapped in the beginning with disabilities and with great feelings of inferiority.” – Kenneth Lysons: How to cope with hearing loss: The first comprehensive handbook

Next: Attributes of Goal Orientation


  • Lysons, K. (1980). How to cope with a hearing loss: The first comprehensive handbook. London: Granada Publishing Ltd.
  • Montgomery, B., & Evans, L. 1984. Y ou and Stress: How To Develop New Coping Skills and a Healthier Lifestyle. New York, NY: Penguin Books Ltd.


The contents of these columns are copyright of Dr. Paul Jacobs (PhD). All rights reserved. Reproduction of all or any substantial part of the contents in any form is prohibited. No part of Dr Paul Jacobs’ material on Potential Maximisation may be distributed or copied for any commercial purpose without expressed approval by the author.




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