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A lesson I learned from a 14-year-old

There were 2 minutes left in the game.

My son’s team was up by 2 points. 

Now, if you are a basketball fan, you know that anything can happen in the last two minutes of a game. They are critical.

Possession of the ball went back and forth until the clock was down to 36 seconds. 

I was standing on the sidelines sweating bullets!

My son’s teammate Jake was fouled. 

He received two free throws. 

We had the chance to win the game once and for all.

Jake stepped up to the net. He took a deep breath. Boom. He did it. We were up by 1 more point. Boom. He did it again. We were now up by 4 points. A sigh of relief.

We won this important game. 

After the game, I saw Jake at the snack bar. 

“You knew it was up to you to solidify the win. How did you stay so calm and deliver under pressure so well?” I asked. 

 He looked me squarely in the eye and said one word, “Confidence.”

I was floored. I did not expect that response from a 14-year-old!

His response has reverberated in my mind for the past week. 

Jake so maturely demonstrated a skill critically important for leadership yet often underutilized.

Calm under pressureI am referring to the ability to stay calm under pressure and act with confidence. 

So many of the leaders that I work with tell me they are NOT confident. 

They worry they are not leading the “right way” or are not good enough for the position. 

So, what if we, as adults, adopted the view of this 14-year old and led with confidence?

For some of you, this is a mindset shift.

When you are under pressure, what if instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” you approached the task confidently and said, “I’ve got this. I’ll figure it out”?

When you have to give difficult feedback, instead of avoiding the conversation, what if you told yourself to plan, prepare, and deliver the feedback with confidence?

If you have to make a challenging decision, instead of avoiding the decision, what if you confidently expressed your decision to your team?

So, what can you do as a leader to face your challenges more confidently?

How would your life change?

What would the impact be on your team?

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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