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I'm Just Not Good At This!

What do you do? What does your child do?

I wanted to share a story from a recent Character Development Program session at the Hartland elementary schools.

Last month we were working on our “discipline muscle”. The goal was to introduce the importance of Growth Mindset and Hard Work to success. In the sessions last week, I used a very interesting story to help the students relate to the lesson.

I started by asking them to imagine I was someone who had never played basketball before and wanted to start. So, I pretended to bounce a basketball then proceeded to shoot the ball into the basket. I missed the basket. Immediately dejected, I turned away with my head down mumbling “Oh, I’ll never get this, I give up, it’s a dumb game any way!”

Not surprisingly, all the students yelled “No, don’t give up!” To which I got the ball back. I then pretended to shoot again, then said I missed. Then I shot again and missed. Then I shot again and missed. Then I shot yet again and missed. Then I shot the basketball one more time and made it! Upon which I celebrated. Wahoo!!!!!! I then shot the ball again and missed. To which I immediately got dejected again and said, “Oh, I knew I wasn’t really good at this. I’ll never be good at this. I give up!”

We Americans are the very best in sports! Yet we do not apply this same growth mindset and attitude to academics. Why? We all know what it takes to succeed in sports. All our children know if you have never played soccer before you are not going to be very good when you start. You will fail more often than you succeed at first. You will struggle for a very long time. There will be times when you do not progress at all or even feel like you are getting worse. Yet, we all know to just keep going and to not give up!

Stories abound like Michael Jordan being cut from his freshman basketball team only to become one of the best players ever. Every sport has their superstar players that are undersized and not the fastest. At the highest levels of almost every sport are players that got there not by being the most talented but instead by being the ones that trained and practiced the most and the hardest. They are our heroes. We admire them. We look up to them.

Let’s take this back to academics. Is it really any different? What if you had never read or done math before? I bet when you first started working on reading or math when you were young it was hard. Really hard. You struggled. You failed. You got frustrated. You did not like it. You did not want to do the work at the beginning. Would you say “Oh, I am just not good at math/reading. . . I will never be good at it!”? Many of us did.

Being good at something is really only about two things – practice and never giving up!

Most of us just give up too soon! Others cannot put in the work it requires.

So just start by “noticing” first our own mindset, then the mindset we are passing on to our family. What is your family culture? Have you ever said “Oh, I’mjust not good at math (or reading or sports)”? Have you ever said “Oh, my childis just not good at math (or reading or sports)”?

If you have, it is NOT TRUE!

We also teach the Hartland students – “Hard work beat brains and talent every time!”

Yours for stronger kids,


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