Last February I spent a LOT of time working with my 8-year old daughter to prep her for her regional spelling bee. For the 3rd year in a row she sailed past all but one of her classmates to go to the regional.

I was proud of her as I’ve been in the past, but I felt this year needed to be handled a little differently. Last year, she was the first one out of the group and though I would have been dejected at the result, it didn’t seem to phase her.

That made me think she might not believe in her ability to win all that strongly. I wanted to change that.

In an NPR interview I listened to with Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman on their new book, Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, I learned that women are more likely to compete hard when they believe they have a good chance of winning.

I sought to instill that in my daughter. I asked her if she believed she could win. She looked me in the eye and said that she could. I told her that I believed she could, too. And I did.

On top of that we practiced. And practiced. And practiced. There’s no shortcut on that. With the practice came greater and greater confidence. We went to the bee and after 18 nail-biting rounds she came out on top. There were boys in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place.

I told her over our celebratory lunch that day that this event was an occasion she should never forget. For on that day she proved she could be just as good as any boy.  I hope she’ll remember that day forever and always believe in herself.

Fast forward to March and my daughter was now in a Speech Meet to recite a poem in front of a group of about 40 people. As the public speaking coach I worked with her on a few key elements: the open and close and the power of her voice.

I’m proud to say she ended up with a Blue Ribbon though she was admittedly nervous. Her confidence is growing! Once you start to believe in yourself with all your heart the sky’s the limit.

I think Po and Ashley would have been proud. I sure was.

Do you believe in your ability to achieve great things. You know it starts there, right?

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