I wonder what it’s like to be an Olympian and how wonderful that medal must feel? And even if you didn’t win a medal, wouldn’t it be an amazing achievement just to represent your country. Whatever the outcome, many of us have the drive inside to win; to do our best.
Watching the Olympics is a great opportunity to inspire our next generation in so many positive ways. It might sound cheesy, but a real ‘can do’ approach and putting in maximum effort is the right attitude we want to instill in our children. It is clear to see that everything is in the preparation. Olympic athletes often talk about their four years (or more) of grueling training and all the sacrifices made; for this moment. This is not something that has happened overnight, and how amazing that must feel when it pays off.
Wonderful stories, such as Olympic breaststroke champion, Adam Peaty winning gold for Britain in the early hours of Monday morning. On his medal success, his grandmother, Mavis Williams, later confirmed that Adam didn’t like water as a child and would even scream in the bath.
Rafaela Silva who secured Brazil’s first gold medal of the games, said that her family enrolled her in free judo classes as a child, to keep her away from gang life and drugs; learning how to protect herself on the tough streets.
Last night, Bryony Page and her lucky charm led her to one of the most surprising medals of the Olympics. Bryony won a silver medal, which is a huge achievement for Team GB, as it was the first time a British woman had reached the final in trampolining. Page, aged 25, joined the local gymnastics club at the age of nine, after her parents noticed how much she was enjoying trampolining. And what was her lucky charm? A little lunchbox from her brother Marcus. He buys her a different lunchbox for Christmas every year.
So was it both confidence and courage that helped fuel them to Olympic glory? Whilst writing for the First Women website this week, I reflected on we can we raise our girls to believe in themselves, equipped the the confidence they need to reach their full potential. A recent survey from Girlguiding UK showed that self-belief severely declines as girls approach the end of their school years and enter the workplace or start university. It concerns me that their confidence hits a low point in their early twenties, as they start to think their career moves.
Dr Peter Benson, who died in 2011, was the founder of the Search Institute in the US and one of the world’s leading experts on adolescence. Peter spent many years of his life campaigning for one single idea that he felt could transfer school life for young people – the idea that everyone has a ‘spark’.
I believe, like Peter, that everyone has a ‘spark’ and plugging into what that spark is, will become the part of the journey. Peter discovered that children and young teenagers aged between 10 -14 almost always have something inside them, whether it be an interest, enthusiasm, talent or concern, that spark could be the making of them in later life.
So what type of spark could your children have:-
- A skill or a talent? For instance, dancer, writer, artist, athlete or musician
- A commitment – Someone who is passionate about protecting the natural world, the environment or how people are treated in the world. It could they are very generous, caring person who wants to channel their positive energy for the benefit of others.
- Strong and defined characteristics – Key qualities such as being a strong communicator. Social skills, empathy skills; confident? The ‘go to’ person in the workplace. The person who speaks up and takes the lead. A problem solver, a person of trust, someone who leads from the front
Once you help you children to identify what that spark is, focus on how you can help them use it, giving them plenty of support and encouragement along the way. I am so passionate about the confidence gap, that I now go into schools to speak to schoolchildren about it. Explaining how building their own confidence will the most important project they will ever work on. You can find me on www.schoolspeakers.co.uk, under Jo Wimble-Groves.
Over the years, I’ve definitely come to the conclusion that you can’t be good at everything, but you can be good at something. Sometimes it just takes a little while to work out what it is. From trampolining to swimming to archery. Once you focus yourself on a target, you just need to go for it!