This year, as my son went back to Montessori he was able to express the fact that he was nervous and a little shy about going back. Instead of trying to convince him there was nothing to be nervous about, I let him know that it was OK to feel like that and we could stand outside the door as long as he needed to until he felt comfortable going in. Then he spotted a pair of gloves, they were blue cotton gloves, and he wanted to wear them. When I asked him why, he said they would help him feel better. This was strange because we had never done anything like this before, but instead of telling him he didn’t need his gloves on a warm sunny day, I helped them put them on. After they were on, I told him to wear the gloves as long as he needed and I called them confidence gloves. He smiled and said, “Daddy, I like my confidence gloves”.
We went to school, and everything was OK. We rang the bell, the teacher opened the door, he gave me a hug and a smooch and off he went. I asked the teacher how long he wore the gloves for, and she told me, “for about 15 minutes”. The next day we did the same thing, but this time I was getting ready to get on a plane after I dropped him off. He told me again that he was unsure and a little nervous. I let him know that I understood, because I was a little nervous about my flight later. He looked at me, gave me a big hug, and said, “Daddy, you can wear my confidence gloves”. I almost cried, told him thank you, but I thought he should wear them, then we went to school, he kept his gloves on, but this time for only five minutes. Now, week later he no longer wears the gloves, and jumps right into the class.
Often times we need something to help us gain our confidence, but often times, it takes success to gain confidence and therefore we are left in a sticky situation. So how can we gain confidence without success? One way, is through rituals, or a process, just like my son’s gloves. His process was to acknowledge his fear, put his gloves on, go to school, and then take them off as he felt better. Some people always put their right sock on first, others step into the batter’s box a certain way, and almost all NBA players have a routine before they shoot a free throw. This is not a superstition, it is a process that gets them prepared for what they are about to face. My question is what is your process? You must create a process, be able to define it, and then commit to it. A process, just like my son’s gloves will create confidence through familiarity. It will not guarantee success, or stop you from feeling nervous, as my son’s gloves did not stop the feeling, but it will help you face it. A process will help you face your fear with confidence, because you know you will be prepared. Just like my son’s gloves, your process should continue until you are successful or have moved onto a different challenge in which you need to create a new process.