“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience
in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the
thing which you think you cannot do.” – - Eleanor Roosevelt
My 5-year-old nephew sat on my lap as he played his computer game. I watched and cheered him on as his points added up. He took delight in how many points he was scoring and loved that I was sharing in his success.
But in a minute – his excitement and delight quickly vanished as he approached one segment of the game. It was a new segment. One he had not triumphed over before. He quickly stated: you play now. He wanted me to take over for him because he thought he would fail. He said: I’m scared. He didn’t ask for help or want me to show him how to succeed in playing this new segment — he wanted me to take over.
Do you ever feel like your staff wants you to take over when things get too hard or too challenging? What do you do? Do you jump right in and solve the problem or take care of the issue?
I thought about what I should with my nephew for a minute. I’ve seen him fail before and it’s not a pretty sight. When he loses a game he cries and gets upset with the people he’s playing with. Sometime he states: I don’t like her anymore!Yes, he even says: I hate her! Ouch. His logic is overcome by emotion. No, not an experience I enjoy.
But I also realize if I don’t encourage him to try, and if I don’t resist taking over for him he will not gain the experience of accomplishing a new success, a success that will increase his confidence. He will give up when it comes to that part of the game. He will think: I can’t do that. And if I take over for him I’m saying: You’re right – you can’t do that. Let me do it.
So I encourage him to give it a try. He sits nervously on my lap and agrees to give it a shot. He experiences some new successes and yes, some failed attempts. With each failed attempt he’s one step closer to experiencing a new success. We agree to play again tomorrow and go one step further in the game. Maybe it will be the day we break down the brick barricade and save the princess!
Sometimes adults need a little push, a little encouragement to give a new experience a try. Perhaps some of your staff could use a push to participate in the team building activity at a staff meeting; or encouragement to speak directly to a peer about a problem they’re facing. Perhaps some staff members would gain more confidence if they thought about solutions to their challenges instead of expecting you to provide them. And maybe some staff would benefit from being included in resolving a difficult issue with a parent.
Although they may experience some failed attempts — they’ll be one step closer to experiencing a new success. And each new success adds up to increased self-confidence.
Please leave your comments on this topic below. I’d love to hear from you!