Tales of a 7th Grade Everything

bri

Growing up, my favorite author was Judy Blume.  I loved most all of her stories, but one of my favorites was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  In a very brief synopsis, Peter is annoyed with the antics of his younger brother, Fudge, how he never gets punished and how Peter believed that his needs/wants came second to attention paid to his little brother.  In middle school, I too remembered that feeling of coming second to siblings, classmates and friends.  Believing that who they are must matter more because they got more attention.  It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that we all are amazingly unique and special and although I have never wanted to be just like someone else, I learned I couldn’t if even I tried.

The Confidence Post was created to connect with children and parents alike to work together as a community to empower children with self-esteem, leadership and character development as a weapon against bullying.  However, we have not spent as much time talking directly to our young readers so I thought I would try to do that today.

I thought a great place to start would be to interview a 5th-8th grader that might be able to shed some light on what we as adults need to know about childhood self-esteem.  I hope in the coming weeks to interview more bright, inspiring young readers to share their insight with you.

**Disclaimer:  I started with my favorite 7th grader, my niece/goddaughter, Brianna.  Her parents have allowed for her picture to be shared so you get a sense of the amazing young lady she is and the woman she is becoming.  Brianna is a bright, articulate, talented young woman who agreed to be interviewed.  These are the questions I asked:

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.  My name is Brianna.  I am 12 years old and I am in the 7th grade.  In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends.  My hobbies are basketball and ballet.
  2. What is unique about you?  I think I am unique because I have my own style. I usually do things my own way and I do my own thing. Usually, I don’t do whatever everybody else does.
  3. Who helps you see how unique and special you are?  My family plays a big role in making me who I am. I am always able to be myself with my family.
  4. How do they do that (make you feel unique/special)?  My family always encourages me to do new things and new experiences so I can discover who I am.
  5. What would you tell other kids about how to know THEY are unique and special?  You are able to know you are unique by who you are surrounded by. Hang around people that know you are special and make you feel that way.
  6. Is there anything you would want to tell the parents/adults of those children on helping them feel unique and special?  Try to notice what makes children special and tell them you notice these things.
  7. Anything else?  I don’t think so…

Out of the mouths of articulate babes…My thanks to Brianna for taking time out of her very busy day to educate us and for being the super star that she is.  I love you!  Thanks also to her parents, Tim and Lily, for letting me speak to her, share her picture and overall fantastic example of self-esteem, leadership and character development.

More to come!

-Cheryl L.

DREAMS

dream

I have DREAMS and they are BIG.  They are deserving of capital letters.  They involve changing the world, making an impact, being the best that I can.  They are exciting.  They keep me from sleeping at night and they eliminate the need for coffee in the morning.

Much like Lauren, I set New Year’s resolutions every year.  But mine blur the lines between resolution and goal.  Mine are small steps for the year that help me get closer to my DREAMS.  I break those resolutions down into things that need to happen each month, each week, and each day.  It’s doing the small things often that help me achieve my resolutions and ultimately my DREAMS.

The beginning of the year is always filled with excitement.  I redraw my DREAMS.  I can see them more clearly.  Each year they seem closer, more achievable.  The things that I need to do don’t sound so daunting.  Anything can be accomplished.

Then today comes around…the middle of January.  Momentum is waning.  My DREAMS are still as exciting, but my resolutions are starting to stretch my comfort zone.  My goals are hard.  My DREAMS seem too big.

So how do I face today?  Today I remind myself that I don’t have to complete the whole goal in one day.  My DREAMS will be a compilation of my life.  If I can move 1 foot forward, that is as much of a success as if I move 1 mile forward.  If I move 1 inch forward, I have still moved. The world has felt my impact.  I have stretched.  My 1 inch today is 1 inch I don’t have to go tomorrow because I’ll already be there.

Today I take advice from this blog.  I ask my friends for help.  I work to refrain from putting my fears into words because I don’t want to give them power.  Instead I redraw my DREAM for others.  I let them share in the excitement.  I ask them to journey with me during this part.  My DREAM is not their dream but we can share this part of the walk together.  We stand in the bathroom with our arms up in the air forming a power pose and laugh at ourselves but gain confidence.  We pretend we are a great leader and only do what we think great leaders would do in this situation.  We retrain our thinking by changing the words we are using. We compliment each other and boy do we give good compliments.  We thank everyone, for everything.

But most of all, I allow myself to move just 1 inch then I celebrate that inch, because today, I have succeeded.

-Jennifer S.

What Does Leadership Look Like

leader

The topic of leadership has been at the forefront of many meetings I’ve been a part of lately. We’ve all seen leaders that we want to follow, and those we’d rather not. A good leader can motivate and inspire, and a not-so-great leader can make you want to disengage and lose passion. To an extent, leadership can be a natural talent. But not to worry, there are many ways we can all improve our leadership capacity — and become someone worth following (and be inspirational!).

I was listening to a radio program the other week that piqued my interest. A successful fashion designer, Eileen Fisher, was being interviewed on her business and experience in life. She was inspirational and intriguing. After listening to her interview, I wanted to know more about her (and actually thought she’d be a cool gal to grab coffee with!). Today, when I was googling leadership advice, a past interview on Inc.com with Eileen Fisher popped up in my search results. I went through her 10 leadership tips and thought they were so relevant, and quite honestly, were the realist illustration of how I envision an ideal leader. Her advice had inspired my post this week. Please see below for top takeaways I took from her leadership tips based on her experience founding and running a $300 million fashion brand.

Top Leadership Tips:

– communicate the big picture and help others see how their roles play a part in the big ideas

– focus on what is really important and set priorities

– follow curiosity and believe

– a leader is never alone, bring people together — think teamwork!

My favorite — excite, motivate, involve – embrace each person’s energy. Inspire people to engage their passion, creativity, strengths and skills in the work. Appreciate and acknowledge everyone’s efforts and contributions

– communicate — trust, express, share, listen, be present

– be authentic

– be supportive

– grow

– have fun and be positive

Do any of these stand out to you? Leadership may not be for everyone, but her advice and tips resonate because they exhibit ideal personality and behavior traits. Whether you have high aspirations to be a leader one day, or just want to be a better person, Eileen’s tips are candid and spot on. I challenge you to make a list of what you believe a strong leader means and who stands out to you as an example of one (in your life or a public figure). Once you’ve created that list, make a goal of challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone and strive to achieve those qualities. I also encourage you to start a dialogue about leadership with your family, friends and peers. Knowledge and learning about others brings you closer together. I always find when I learn more about what makes someone tick, what they value, and what inspires them, I become so much more connected to them. I also have grown and developed so much as a woman by emulating those I look up to as great leaders!

A closing thought about leadership I read and felt was moving…. “Every great leader has their own dogma, a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. Kevin Daum, Inc. 500 entrepreneur and best-selling author, says that every successful leader–from Steve Jobs to Warren Buffet–promote a distinct philosophy. ‘Leaders must have unbending principles that guide them and their companies, or people will simply take any path that suits them.'” What do you believe in, what is your truth, what path do you want in life?

-Alex W.

If you’d like to read all of Eileen’s leadership tips, click here- http://www.inc.com/ss/10-leadership-tips-from-eileen-fisher.

A New Kind Of Resolution

new-year-resolutions

I think New Year Resolutions are important. I make them every year, but sadly, achieve them less than 50 percent of the time. Maybe it’s because most of mine have been about getting down to size-impossible and rocking a tanned and toned bikini bod. For what? I’m happily married to a man who loves my curves and naturally un-tanned skin, and let’s face it, I am a mom, who’s pregnant again, and have no time or desire to hit the beach for Spring Break. So, I say, forget the typical fitness goal this year (I am writing this as I devour a delicious bowl of salted caramel and hazelnut ice cream), my 2015 New Year Resolution gets down to what really matters in my life: practicing patience and being present.

Being a stay-at-home mom to a busy toddler, while carrying baby #2 (due in June), has helped me realize that I am not patient, in fact, I am high-strung and typically exhausted. Road rage, snapping at my son or husband before assessing the situation, and the constant feeling of needing to rush through my day/week/month is not okay — it’s taking a toll on me, and the ones I love. So, this year, I will demonstrate patience by being in the moment, being thoughtful, taking deep breaths, and occasionally disconnecting from my phone, tablet, laptop, etc.

When I told my husband about my goal, he asked: “How will you measure if you achieved it?” My answer was simple: “I will see how I feel this time next year.” If I’m still feeling constantly stressed and rushed, then I did not achieve my goal. So much good can come from my resolution to be patient and present. Here are 10 benefits off the top of my head:

  1. I will become a better listener
  2. I will not feel anxiety in my daily life
  3. I will have less tension in my back and shoulders
  4. I will snap less often at my toddler (husband, and others)
  5. I will savor and enjoy the milestones of my second pregnancy
  6. I will sleep better
  7. I will make healthier eating choices
  8. I will get back into yoga
  9. I will feel more fulfilled
  10. I will set a good example for my children and those around me

Doesn’t that all sound awesome? What is your 2015 resolution?

-Lauren T.