What does your child love to do? A sport, art, acting, singing, playing an instrument, writing, designing computer or game software? Whatever the particular area of interest, it’s probably safe to say that he or she pursues it with a zest.
The great majority of students who attend SuperCamp programs are interested and involved in other activities. I’ve heard from many parents of our grads who say that many of the skills and character lessons they learn at SuperCamp help their kids perform even better in their other areas of interest.
What’s also interesting is that when young people first apply this learning in pursuits in which they are passionate, it opens the door for them to use it at school with equally positive results.
In my work with teens and pre-teens, I focus on four specific ways they can take their performance to an even higher level in the activities they love to do.
1. Learn How to Focus
At SuperCamp, we call it “Q” UP!, which means achieving a quantum level of focus. When in the moment of practicing and executing, here’s how to do it:
Pull up & Picture: Pretend there is a string attached to the top of your head. Pull on this imaginary string to straighten up your body, while you are picturing what you want.
Breathe & Release: Breathe deeply and release. Relax your jaw and shoulders.
Look & Listen: Put all of your attention on the task/activity.
Give your best effort: Feel good about yourself by giving your best effort.
2. Build Confidence to Build Results
Everyone can use more confidence. Even kids who are really good at something are going to run into bumps in the road. A good basketball player who can score 20 points a game may suddenly face a new team that can shut him or her down. That event can be a huge confidence blow to someone who has been unchallenged up to that point.
We address the confidence issue throughout SuperCamp because it is so critical to one’s pursuit of excellence in school and any endeavor. Our approach is as follows:
Implement the “Q” UP! steps for optimal focus: An individual who’s in an optimal state of focus, whether it’s at school, in a competition, or in a performance, has greater confidence because he knows he’s “in the zone” and immune to outside distractions.
Move out of your comfort zone: To help a teen gain confidence, it’s important to support a move beyond what is most familiar, what’s safe, and what is comfortable. Even someone who is naturally gifted in an area will reach the point where
At SuperCamp, we help students move outside their comfort zones with a series of confidence-building mini-success moments and the support of team members. They’re able to take their successes at camp and apply them to school and other aspects of their lives where moving outside their comfort zone becomes essential for further growth.
Failure Leads to Success: This is the second of our 8 Keys of Excellence that we teach at SuperCamp. It goes hand-in-hand with moving out of one’s comfort zone because anyone who tries something new likely is going to experience moments of failure before mastering it. Encourage your child to embrace the concept that failure provides the information necessary to learn and grow and, ultimately, succeed. Share that Thomas Edison failed more than 900 times before he perfected the light bulb, that Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, that the Beatles were told at their first audition session at Decca Records that groups with guitars were on their way out. As Michael Jordan said, “I’ve failed over and over and over in my life and that is why I succeeded.” Michael Jordan, by the way, was cut from his high school varsity basketball team as a sophomore.
3. Take Ownership for Results
In truth, all of life is about making choices. Teens, in particular, like to lay responsibility on the doorstep of others – parents, fellow students (in failed group projects or when caught doing something they shouldn’t have been doing), teachers, coaches, teammates, etc.
Ownership (another of our 8 Keys of Excellence) applies to young people’s extra-curricular activities in a number of ways, probably none more significant than in the area of practice. The decision to practice and the decision to practice with purpose are choices. Aspiring athletes, singers, actors, and artists all choose how hard they want to work to improve and excel. Legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, put it this way: “The only way of improving the team is by improving yourself.”
4. Get Motivated for Success
Making the choice to work hard at one’s craft is one way to take ownership. Another choice a young person makes is whether or not to be motivated. We know that confidence helps breed motivation. Another key component to becoming motivated is to set specific goals and to break through personal barriers.
But it can’t be just any goal. A student may set a goal of getting his homework done in half an hour so his parents won’t yell at him. The goal may work, but it’s hardly inspiring or long-lasting.
In order to pack a true motivational punch, a goal should have an emotional connection. The emotional link is more easily established when the goal is grand; let’s call it a vision. Smaller goals come into play for day to day events (“I’m going to give 100% for the entire hour of practice today.”), but it’s the bigger, emotional goal that will drive the on-going sense of purpose and motivation.
For teens involved in an extra-curricular activity, the big goal can be to win a competition, gain a scholarship (bigger), or achieve a level of expertise that will allow them to pursue a career in that field (biggest). The more that kids can see “what’s in it for them” in terms of an emotional payout, the greater the likelihood they will make a sustained effort to give their best effort.
A major emotional breakthrough moment at SuperCamp occurs during a barrier-breaking exercise we conduct. It begins with each camper creating a specific goal and writing it on a board. On the other side of the board, each person writes what is holding him or her back from achieving that goal. One by one, the campers break through their boards and, in doing so, break through their barriers and become more motivated and more focused on achieving their goals.
In summary, parents, you can use these tools to inspire your child to continue to develop in what he or she loves to do. In doing so, it will serve as a model for your son or daughter in terms of the results that can be achieved in school through the same focus, confidence, sense of ownership and level of motivation.
About the Author: Bobbi DePorter, teen motivation and accelerated learning expert, has changed the lives of over four million kids through her SuperCamp and Quantum Learning school programs. SuperCamp is a learning and life skills holiday program with more than 60,00