Confidence, Humility & Flexibility

All U.S. Presidents enter office supremely confident in their ability to effect positive change for the future.  All are quickly humbled by unforeseen circumstances and the challenge of getting others’ buy-in.  Then again, aren’t we all so afflicted?


As with many Presidents, our pursuits are fueled more by desire than a powerful belief that the result is inevitable.  While we are confident in our own abilities, we are unlikely to “guarantee” a specific result.  For it’s in the question of guarantees that we face the reality of how limited our control over a specific outcome is.  That’s where humility comes into play.


As we, like Presidents, are humbled by unforeseen circumstances and the difficulty of getting buy-in, we realize how little control we possess.  Indeed, we realize that the only thing we can control is our own activity…or we suffer increasing levels of frustration, anxiety, and, possibly, depression.

With humility, we acknowledge that we have no control over the timing or the specific nature of the outcome, we can avoid the debilitating emotions of frustration, anxiety and depression and continue to move forward confident in our ability to produce a favorable result…although not necessarily the result we’d envisioned.


When our confidence is combined with a healthy dose of humility, our odds of producing a good result go up exponentially.  Why?  Because we are open to new ideas, new approaches, new insights.  In other words, we remain flexible.

This flexibility is what allows us to learn and adapt quickly and effectively.  It only occurs when we’re willing to acknowledge that the outcome is likely to be dramatically different than the one we envisioned.  Now that we are aware of the links between this trio of success elements, how do we teach our kids these lessons?

For our kids

  1. Help them understand that desire fuels success.  The greater their desire, the greater the likelihood of their success.  If at any time their desire wanes…they’re unwilling to do the things necessary to be successful…it’s time to pursue something that does incite action.
  2. Remind them to draw their confidence from their ability to learn and adapt…ask them to cite a few examples of things they accomplished when they had no background or experience.  If you tell them, the’ll discount it.  If they recall them on their own, they’ll acknowledge the power of their ability to learn and adapt.
  3. Ask them whether they can guarantee a result? Then help them remember times when things didn’t go according to plan, yet everything worked out well.  Let them know that the reason why things went well is that all involved were open to the possibility of things changing…that humility was the key to that openness.
  4. Ask them whether that openness to change is possible when they insist on things being a certain way?  When they insist upon being in control?  When they’re willing to relinquish control?  As they answer these questions they’re likely to see the connection between humility and flexibility.  If not, you can help them make the connection.
  5. Finally, walk the talk.  It doesn’t matter what your tell you kids; it’s what you do that they observe and mimic.

You and your kids will experience greater success and the joy it affords as you embrace the trio of confidence, humility and flexibility.

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