The can and can’t of success

Success comes to us in every activity, based on the words we choose to tell ourselves. As Henry Ford once said, Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right. In other words, our success comes in our “can and can’t”.

A few years ago I was helping a young student with balance, and it was not coming quickly for him. After several unsuccessful attempts, I asked the group of student to help him “giving him some energy,” clapping in rhythm while he repeated the words, “Yes I Can.” With this little exercise, he accomplished the task and then continued to do so in the future.

Our confidence is affected by our thoughts and words that we tell ourselves and by what we have started to believe from the people that surround us. In recent years a new term has been coined by Carol Dweck and others that sum up the mindset needed to continue to learn and develop new skills. There is the contrast drawn between “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset.”

At a recent convention, I listened to scores of people complaining that they were not good writers and spoke of it regarding not everyone is a writer. In effect they were saying that they could not learn this skill – they were fixed on not being good at writing. When young people hear the adults in the room express this attitude, it rubs off on them, and they are less inclined to add the word “yet” to their thought process.

I may not be good at something, yet, but that does not mean that I cannot learn. Most of the time when a person dismisses a skill as not theirs and they “can’t do it” it says they have not put forth the effort and have no intentions of putting their mind to learning. Confidence is the growth mindset that says, I have not learned this yet – but with practice, I can learn.

Teach our children to have this attitude by the example we set as adults, trying and experiencing new things on a regular basis. The more often we can show our willingness to learn the more we open the minds of our children not to have a fear of failure, but rather the joy of learning with confidence that they can!

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