Resiliency takes practice. So does Critical Thinking, Communication, Decision Making, Empathy and Adaptability.
We can hope that they learn it in school or by accident, which they often do to a degree, but to continue their development we must provide real world opportunities for them to exercise these skills & learn from their results. Then, practice it again in a new way with new results.
Build a Biz Kids uses Entrepreneurship as a medium to practice Real Life Skills in Real World Interactions. But of course throwing students into a situation without preparation wouldn’t set them up to succeed.
Students attend 10 weeks of programming designed to prepare them for these real world interactions. Step by Step, they role play scenarios, plan and make BIG decisions, gain confidence through leadership and develop empathy for their customers who they will meet very soon.
As adults, we are cut off in traffic on a regular basis. Sometimes by accident, sometimes by overconfident people who believe their schedule is more important than ours.  How do you react?
For me, sometimes I’m glad not to have my son in the car with me, lol. It really get’s to me. Other times I really impress myself by how little I react and that I empathize with the driver that they must have someplace important to go; or how sad for them that this is how they feel in control by making power moves that are dangerous and disrespectful. Aren’t I the bigger person today?
Which was the better response? To be honest, it doesn’t matter. No one was around to know about either of my possible reactions, unless they are in the car with me. The other driver doesn’t know. My parents don’t know. My favorite teacher who would be so disappointed in one of the responses, also doesn’t know.
What matters is whether I did either one on purpose. Did I stop and reflect on how one reaction made me feel over the other? Did I question if one was more right or appropriate than the other? Did I even ask WHY I reacted differently from one occasion to the other in an objective manor?
Here is why these ACTIVE thoughts and reflections matter.
Just in this one situation, I had an opportunity to practice self control, empathy, leadership, self awareness, body language, conflict resolution, personal branding, adaptability, self confidence, resiliency, and possibly depending on the situation, time management and planning. All of the skills that I listed are known as soft skills. There are actually 87 of these skills, each one important in their own way. I prefer to call them Practical or Essential Skills myself. According to top employers in virtually every sector, that’s exactly what they are; even superseding technical skills in many cases.
That is an entirely separate write up so let’s jump back to the road rage (or not) situation. Everyday we are presented with opportunities to develop skills but instead of being “active” in our approach to practice and be aware, we work on autopilot and fall into habits that are already ingrained and getting deeper by the second.
The statement, “This is just the way I am” has always been one that has made me cringe. It couldn’t be further from the truth. In actual fact, that statement is more accurately read, “This is the way I choose to continue to be”.
The reaction in the car could be a reaction you are happy that you made. It made you feel good and therefore you just continue on your way. Or perhaps you didn’t like your reaction and the rest of the car ride you feel embarrassed or scold yourself for not having control or more self worth. Again, both reactions are not helpful.
During either moment where you feel either reaction, the only thing that can ensure progress and growth, is to be self aware, reflect and contemplate what reaction you would like to have. What reaction would help you or someone else the most? What reaction do you envy when others display? And, most of all, what reaction would you like to train yourself to have going forward. What would you like to have as your new Autopilot?
Our reactions are very similar to addictions in that they are cycles that need to be broken and it takes an active, conscious approach to do it. Most of our habits have been developing for years and have deep pathways in our brains that must be filled with something new. However, the only way to do this is with the desire to grow, to acknowledge when opportunities arise to practice, and then to take action in those moments sooner and sooner in the “heat” of the moment.
I want to leave you with one take away example around our kids that I see often. Sports could easily be looked at as a place where our kids can learn resiliency. They missed the ball, missed the goal or they lost the game but tomorrow still came. Yes, they COULD learn resiliency, but are you and the coaches working actively to develop this SKILL in them?
It was the game right before championships. Both teams were great! It was back and forth and I have never seen a crowd so big at a baseball game for 9 & 10 year olds. The final inning and it is close. My son missed a key catch that could have easily knocked one of their out. No prob, we still have another batter up and either we get the 3rd out or they get a run in. That’s it. It’s as close as it gets.
Well, the other team won. There was a LOT of drama around a pitch with the Umps and I will save you the chaos but that was it. Our team lost.
WELL, I have NEVER seen such absolutely meltdowns of LOUD sobbing and yelling and tempers and tears in all of my life. These kids were squealing through tears saying words no one could make out. 90% of the losing team just lost it! It took me aback. The coaches did their best to say that everyone did an amazing job. That it’s ok that we lost because they won so many and there will be another chance next year and so on. But it didn’t work. In fact, there was a brother of one teammate who lost who was melting down as well and yelling how my son had lost us the game for missing that catch.
So, how many of the players were developing resiliency that day? To be honest, I have no idea. What I do know, is that each of them were too young and too emotional in the moment to understand that it was an opportunity for them to reflect and grow. All they could think about was the loss. That is where coaches and parents must come in to lead them through that.
Some parents consoled and said they did great, that it’s ok to lose and that they are proud. Kind words, and I’m sure it helped a little to help them with perspective in some way, but it hasn’t help them to be active in their thinking. Instead, these words are your attempt to implant positive thoughts in their mind but that’s not how new habits are formed.
Other parents were disgusted in the behavior and told their kid to “Stop it! That’s enough of that”, which most likely came from a place of fear that their child would always act this way to a loss, or the parents were just embarrassed to have one of their own kids meting down.
So what could be helpful? What could start them on the trek to developing positive habits around loss?
Asking insightful, non leading questions. Questions where their answers have no right or wrong answer. The objective is getting them to Think Through their emotions and options with the desire to create a positive outcome.
In the first parent reaction, the parent is trying to implant positive thinking into the child’s mind; to think for them about the situation and try to make the child see it their way. The problem is that the next time they lose something it might not be a baseball game where the same thinking applies and their parent might not be there to tell them how to feel again.
Instead, ask them how they are feeling?
Why do they feel that way?
How would they feel if they won and how would the other team feel?
Did they do their best? Was there anything they wished they had done more?
What actions could they take now that would give them a better chance next time?
Lastly, emotions are tough sometimes; especially in moments where we feel defeat and major loss. So keep this in mind when asking these questions. They may still give answers that are considered “not appropriate” or immature. That’s ok. This is practice. This is simply helping to equip them with questions they can ask themselves later that night once they are calm and have time to reflect.
**On that note, give them time to reflect. no iPads, no TV. those are escapes. Give them time to reflect and process. that is where the magic happens.
Happy Practicing!!