When we are told “no” as children, it is often taken as a personal challenge to get mom or dad to say “yes.” As a mom, I know that challenge can be exhausting. As we move into adulthood, being told “no” begins a far different challenge: the challenge of self-confidence and perseverance.
I was recently told “no” regarding something that has developed into a passion for me, and I spent 2-3 weeks wallowing in how hurt I was and how much it has impacted my ability to see myself the way I once did - as a true leader. To be completely honest, I am still struggling with that emotion, but I have been given a different perspective, and I want to share this idea with you. “No” should be a motivator, not the destruction of your will power.
I really think the shift in the power of “no” changes in middle and high school. When “no” really changes your ability to continue in a direction you wanted to move. Being cut from a team, not being chosen to perform in the school play, or even as simple as getting that “F” on an assignment.
There is a lot of conversation in education about growth mindset vs. fixed mindset, and in education we create the fixed mindset for most students. When we give grades, we express the notion that the learning is final, and not a continuum. So many teachers are talking about the “mindset,” but I want to speak about a different approach. Using the “no” to boost you forward.
I have decided that the “no” I heard a few weeks back was the catalyst for really pushing myself to do more of my own growing. I love the work I do in the classroom, but I really believe that there is more to be done in developing students into strong leaders. So I have created this business plan that will not give leadership skills only to the students at the “top.” I want all students to have the opportunity to be great leaders. Let’s be honest - most children grow up to be leaders in one way or another, even as mothers and fathers we must lead the family. If we provide students the right skills, we really will be creating a better tomorrow for everyone.
So I am going to put myself out there. I will train students, I will train teachers, I will train parents and children to be better leaders. I am willing to take on my own first challenge of using the “no” to motivate me. I am going to my first marketing event, and I am aiming to hear “no” 50 times! If I gave myself the goal to get one “yes,” I might stop and be satisfied with just that. But what if I could have done more? What if I don’t get that “yes?” Instead, I will learn from each and every “no,” about why I may not have been a good fit, and how I might adjust my purpose and goals to BE a better fit.
Can you see how this might work with our students? Remind them that “no” teaches us more than “yes” ever will, and being ok with hearing “no” is a really valuable confidence booster. I wish I had received that training when I got my first failing grade.