Accomplishing a goal takes bravery. Sometimes it takes just a little, sometimes it takes all way can muster. Not every goal is equal, for example… my goal to lose 30 lbs is probably a little more important (and valuable) than my goal to win the Superbowl as ‘Da Bears on Madden ’10. Each goal we accomplish however is a little affirmation that “I can”, and we all need a little “I can” to call on when the going gets tough, just like The Little Engine that Could.
My youngest son has been excited about skateboarding all summer. He has pulled my longboard out to get the feel of it many times, and has spent many hours playing on his training skateboard (the wheels have some kind resistance in the bearings to prevent it from going too fast). So it was no surprise to us that he asked to take a skateboarding class at our local Y. We finally had a window for it a couple weeks ago and got him signed up. Which meant we had to get him a real skateboard with normal wheels so he could actually skate.
The skateboard was definitely faster and I think it made him a little nervous. Which led him to start asking me if I could help him practice a little before his class. So the weekend before his class started we made our way to a local skate park. First he wanted to try things by himself. He was a little timid and sure enough he took a tumble on his first attempt down one of the small ramps. His pride was a little bruised and he decided to go about the park avoiding the ramps and doing the things he knew how to do.
Once his little ego had mended a little he started to skate up onto the ramps a little and then hop off (in an attempt to avoid an embarrassing spill again). That was my signal to get in and push him a little. I had him get back up on the small ramp (where he fell) and told him that he had to commit to it all the way, or he would fall off every time. With a more than a little trepidation he made his way to the edge of the ramp. I offered the appropriate encouraging words and reminded him that speed was his friend, that he needed to go and go fast, gravity would do the rest. He took a deep breath and took the plunge… and made it no spill no tears, just pride… for both of us.
He got right back up on the ramp and did it again, and again, and again…
Before I knew it he was asking for help on the bigger ramps, the confidence gained by making it down a ramp that had thwarted him buoyed him up to try bigger and bigger ramps. By the end of the day he was going down ramps taller than he is:
By setting and accomplishing the goals of making it down those ramps that afternoon he built up a store of “I can”. A store which allowed him to confidently go to his skateboarding class the next day and try new tricks and learn new skills. Which, yes, gave him new “I cans”.