They Have Everything They Need


Photo: Leo Hidalgo


Lately there have been a large number of things crossing my desk on fear of failure and anxiety amongst our young people.  It’s an area that’s quickly rising on my radar screen as it is for other parents and educators I’ve spoken with.  We’re going to tackle this as an ongoing set of articles and tips but for today I wanted to start from what I think is the beginning.

We know for most of our young they begin with “not knowing what they don’t know”, what I mean is, that from the beginning most of them start with this amazing capacity for curiosity and happily tackling everything as “figureoutable”, thanks Marie Forleo.

Somewhere down the line, for many reasons, including what society and sometimes us as parents or educators lay out as parameters, they start to doubt their capabilities, it’s not that we’re not supportive but sometimes of the wrong things. We can start to see this become fear of trying, “what if I should fail”.  While this is a complex area, with no one simple answer, luckily there are some simple things we can do as starting points to get our children/students back in the game and realizing that life is both an experiment and an evolution.  There really is no one-way of finding answers or getting things done.

In order for them to be able to put the tools and thinking in place that allows them to keep taking risks and utilizing their curiosity to try things and find new solutions, they need to have a solid starting point.

I think this begins with them knowing that, they have everything they need already to start and become authentically successful, and that they are good enough the way they are.

For those of you with a competitive nature who are cringing about now, I’m not talking about giving everyone a ribbon, but exactly the opposite.

We’re not pumping them up by telling them that everyone is equal and they did well too, but exactly the opposite.  We’re focusing them on utilizing their unique strengths and talents to move themselves forward in ways that make sense and empower them.  To differentiate themselves at the same time embracing and valuing the things they are good at and then putting those things in play in a big, crazy Cirque de Soleil way, which helps them build solid paths forward.  It also means encouraging them to stretch out and add skills that they require to assist them with the things they love and sometimes they won’t be fabulous at them, but will use them as building blocks to support the things they really want to do.


Keep giving them examples/stories of how yourself and those around you have certain skills you highlight and use more frequently in coordination with others, who have different skills that help you collaborate successfully. It’s no secret in my house that my husband keeps us organized and I’m the one who starts and pushes projects forward.

Give them ideas on what they are good at and how that fits with others in accomplishing every day tasks, so they get a feel for how they fit in to real world scenarios.

We’ll call this step one in our ongoing series on building resilience, getting “unstuck”, and accomplishing the things they really want to do.  Above all, have fun with it.

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