CEO's Blog - Confidence is Key

Posted on Fri, 11 May, 2018

Confidence is a funny one.  We all know it’s such a vital trait for success but it needs to be balanced.  Too little of it and you’ll barely make it out of the front door, too much and you’ll almost certainly face-plant as you try to sprint out of the house.

The interesting thing with the children we teach is that you can spot the ones who have inner-confidence a mile off.  They don’t have an ego or arrogance, but just a quiet self-belief in their own action and abilities.  It’s incredibly subtle but unbelievably powerful when you see it up close and you know they are going to go on to make a success of their lives.

I’m often left wondering how it can be so different between children in such similar situations.  How can groups of children who go to the same school and have similar backgrounds end up at different ends of the scale when it comes to confidence?  Is it just down to DNA and parenting or is something else at play?

For me confidence is like a wall which is built one brick at a time and each brick represents a small win in life.  You do a bit of extra revision in your most hated subject and the teacher notices, one brick.  You try a new sport which you thought you’d be rubbish at but instead discover some natural talent, one brick.  You manage to put the phone down and ask someone out on a date face-to-face and they say yes, definitely two bricks!

Over time all of these little wins add up, but the crucial point is that young people need the opportunity to have a go in the first place.  One of the biggest wins we have at FRBC is when students flat-out refuse to walk out onto the pontoon for fear of drowning only to eventually end up in a boat and loving it.  If I really try and put myself in their shoes I can completely understand their fear.  The Thames is a massive tidal river which they’ve never been on before.  It has a strong current, commercial traffic and, in theory, nothing stopping them from drifting off through central London if it all goes wrong.  Of course as coaches we know how safe they actually are with the controls we have in place and so delivering #rowingforeveryone is a hugely powerful tool for building the confidence of a young person.  They face up to a genuine fear of the water in a controlled environment and end up walking away just a little bit taller.  It’s not about being confident because they’ve won a massive race but about being given the opportunity to win that little battle with themselves.  I’m not 100% convinced you can argue that the traditional school sports on offer also have this unique benefit.

A Year 9 girl from one of our partner schools was so affected by it that she sent FRBC this note:

“The first time I went rowing I was very nervous and I ended up asking to get out of the rowing boat because I was scared. However the following week I realised that this was an opportunity I couldn’t let go of. As soon as I started rowing it was like second nature I adapted to the technique very quickly and did not want the session to end. Now I cannot wait for the following weeks as it is so exciting and fun. So this goes to show you should always persevere though challenges and never give up.”

As I said at the top, confidence is a balancing act which is hard to achieve but I also believe that by continuing to open the river and rowing up to every young person we can help them each add another brick to their wall.


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