Gumption. You might also term this ability "stick-toitiveness." This is a trait highly successful people have in spades, and it's one parents can nurture in their children. Kids who lack gumption are usually humiliated out of it; they're humiliated when they take a risk and fail. By pushing children to speak up and try new and challenging endeavors -- and by supporting them even when they mess up you help them develop gumption.
Ambition. The inner drive to achieve and succeed can be nurtured by parents. Kids who grow up without this drive aren't going to find it by listening to motivational tapes. Parents can instill ambition in their children in various ways, but the overall theme is prompting them to set realistic, meaningful (to themselves) goals.
Inquisitiveness. Curiosity didn't kill the cat, it just made him smarter. The desire and ability to ask good questions about subjects you're interested in is an integral part of being smart. Encouraging kids to explore their ideas -- no matter how usual or strange those ideas might seem -- is within the power of all parents. The key here is creating a relationship and an environment in which questioning becomes second nature.
Coloring Outside The Lines. Copyright (c) 2000 by Roger Schank. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.