Friday Fifty: Confidence

I will share my thoughts about these 50 habits in no special order, you can rank them for yourself according to your own beliefs about their relative worth if you choose to. I am approaching them from the idea that taken together as a whole, if my kids (and me), can really instill these traits as a part of a personal and deeply rooted code of belief and action, we will find happiness, contentment, and success.

Let’s get at it …

Friday 50 – #1. Confidence

Psychology Today describes confidence as:

[A] belief in one’s ability to succeed. Striking a healthy balance [with confidence] can be challenging. Too much of it and you can come off as cocky and stumble into unforeseen obstacles, but having too little can prevent you from taking risks and seizing opportunities—in school, at work, in your social life, and beyond.

Confidence is a critical component of our kids’, and our own, abilities to grow and experience a sense of the #epic in our lives. I find it fascinating (but not surprising) how in my family (and probably yours too), even though my wife and I work hard to raise our kids with a consistent approach,  my daughter can be full of confidence, but my son requires our help on a consistent basis to build his. As his dad, and as his coach in life and in sports, I have had many opportunities to work with my son in situations where his default habit of mind goes to a place of “I can’t do this, and I’ll never be able to do this”.

It’s trying and I don’t always do a great job of hiding my frustration (I’m working on this), because once we have coached him through the steps of what he’s trying to do and he experiences even a little success, the kid’s a ninja at everything he tries and his outlook and what he can accomplish improves in an instant.

I have been trying very hard to put a framework around how I work with him before, during, and after these times where he needs help to trust and believe in his capabilities. Here’s what I have come up with so far. I’d love to hear from other #epic dads (and moms) about how you work with your kids to develop a habit of having confidence.

Three Domains of Confidence

  1. Help your kids believe that they are competent and capable.

Point out all the ways they have already done components of the challenge that is scaring them now. Break it down for them and help them understand that they can handle it, have handled it, and will handle it next time too!

Give them examples of how you had to learn something piece by piece, bit by bit. In today’s instant gratification culture, I know I struggle to have my son understand that learning a new skill isn’t like leveling up in a video game. It takes hustle, grind, grit, hard work and multiple attempts. Praising those efforts and the growth along the way as he learns a new skill has been critical.  Knowing that you believe they can learn, grow, and be successful is a huge thing for our kids. Let them know you believe they can be #epic.

  1.   Help your kids believe that they can learn and problem solve

Does this sound familiar, your kid is trying something new, finds it difficult at first and then freezes? They get stuck and unsure of how to move forward or find a different path? I have worked with many kids in a classroom, on the football field, and in the arena who get here. It can be so frustrating for them to move forward in their growth because they honestly don’t believe that they can find another way of accomplishing their goals.

When I have been here with my own kids, or my students or players, I often try to pause, have them articulate what it is they’re trying to do, and then ask them to suggest at least 2 – 3 different ways they could get there. Like everything else about guiding and mentoring kids, this takes patience and persistence. They may dig their heels in and claim they can’t think of anything. You will be tempted to find solutions for them, resist this as much as you can. Help them tweak their ideas and solutions. Don’t solve their problems for them.

One of my work team members has a favorite saying that “man is a lazy beast”. I try to remind myself not to train my own kids to be lazy in their thinking, learning, or problem solving by doing their thinking for them. It’s a struggle for me sometimes, but that’s my own flaw to master. They’ll never get confident that they can solve their own problems if I deprive them of the opportunities to figure things out for themselves.

  1. Help your kids believe in their own intrinsic value

This is a HARD one for me fellas. Again, it’s because I fight against my own demons of confidence when around groups of other #epic men. The mind is a funny thing, and it can whisper to you and make you believe things that just aren’t backed up by what you really know in your heart. I see the same characteristic playing out in my boy from time to time. It’s heartbreaking to suspect you know the exact toxic thought that’s going through his head and it’s even worse to wonder “how in the name of all that is holy can he think about himself that way? He’s so smart, handsome, athletic, talented, etc.”

What we’re working on (I am trying to live this as well) is being around as many kinds of friends and people as possible. We talk regularly about how “it’s ok you’re not just like this friend, or that friend … or this team that team mate. Do you realize that they like you and that you are important because of what you bring to the team, friendship, etc.”? Help your kids understand that they have talents and strengths that are unique and have value. It’s often hard for them to understand that not all kids are able to do what they can do, contribute in the way they can, and be think they way they think.

Here are some behaviors I am trying to model for my kids to help them build confidence:

1. Accepting compliments graciously: I am terrible at accepting compliments. When someone says something nice to me, my default response is to point to a flaw that I haven’t yet perfected as opposed to just saying thanks. I am working on this so my kids know they don’t have to be perfect to be confident that they are capable and valued.

2. Acknowledge and talk about my strengths as a person with my kids: I have been working with a lot of material out of the book Strengths Finder 2.0 with my team at work. One idea we have been homing in on is to be able to “name our talents, claim them, and aim them” to create success and impact. I am working on showing my kids that I understand myself and my talents as a person and that I use them to be the best version of myself every day. Focusing on this positive way of looking at the world changes the way I approach problems from a mindset of, “I wish I was better at … to how can I use my strengths to solve this problem”. This positive outlook helps me approach life confidently and I am trying to be conscious of explaining and demonstrating this to my kids.

3. Give myself permission to play: Life can be a rough grind if it’s all focused on things that are too important to let fail. This can be tough to balance in a very busy work and personal life, but my wife and I are working hard at taking more control over our work and family time so that we can play together more, experience failure and growth in fun things together as a family. I look forward to the opportunities to celebrate and enjoy our successes as well.

Confidence is a critical habit of mind for all of us as we have all seen examples of people with great talents and no confidence struggle, and people of modest ability and great confidence succeed. It’s a lifelong process for certain and never too early or too late to help our kids develop.

Leave me a comment about your successes and challenges with building or displaying confidence either from your own or your kids’ perspective. Amplify our #epic impact by sharing with each other.

Until next week,


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