Teach Your Child a Performance Formula

Author: David Benzel, Growing Champions for Life

At a low point in my athletic career my coach proclaimed, “There’s nothing wrong with you; everything you need is inside you. Just put it together.” I didn’t understand the performance formula at the time.

tom & samMost young students want to perform well, whether it’s in school, sports, or music. When they don’t, many of them suffer needlessly due to an incorrect interpretation of their results. It’s all too common for kids to question their self-worth, or at least their natural gifts, when they don’t succeed. This is especially true when others around them are making progress at a faster pace. What if we could give our children a new perspective on a performance formula that removes the emotions of what they call failure?

If we analyze the elements of performance and break it down into a formula, what do we find? What are the elements that create success? It might be simpler than you think. Talent is the first ingredient. Talents are like playing cards. Everyone has been dealt some talent cards, but no one has the whole deck. It all depends on how carefully you picked your parents! But the good news is that an athlete’s talent can be leveraged, when the second ingredient is added to the mix – Strategy.

Strategies are methods of doing something, including the amount of effort applied. As adults we’re always looking for strategies to help us with making money, running a household, and staying healthy. The practice an athlete puts in can actually turn talent into new skills. According to Daniel Coyle in his book Talent Code, talent can be grown.

The third ingredient is Self-Belief, – or confidence. Whether your child believes he can do something, or believes he can’t, plays an important part in this three-part formula. It’s the final filter through which all performances flow.

When we draw a line under these three elements and add them up like a math problem, we discover the sum of our talent, our strategies, and our self-belief. Here’s the fun part. If all the ingredients are adequate for the task, it adds up to SUCCESS. But sometimes adding these things together doesn’t equal success. When this happens, our kids might be tempted to call this FAILURE. But in reality, there’s no such thing as failure…this is only a LESSON. And lessons are just steps on the way to success — not failure!

Some athletes get very discouraged at this point because they believe the jury has spoken and the verdict is in. They are “inadequate” for the task, so what’s the use? The truth is, talent can be grown and success can be reached IF they’re willing to adjust their strategy and/or self-belief. There’s nothing wrong with them…it’s most likely the strategy they’re using. It’s just time to find a new strategy……and try again. With the right kind of strategy and self-belief, talents can be transformed into learned skills that equal success. It is the journey of all great performers in every endeavor.

When young athletes learn there’s no such thing as failure…only lessons…they can exit the emotional rollercoaster and focus on learning the next lesson, and then the next. Our job is to explain this one simple truth. There’s nothing wrong with them. Everything they need is inside them, or available to be learned.