Your Kids Aren’t Nervous

I saw something amazing a few years ago that has changed the way I parent, coach and live.  Building off my “Word Swap” idea first used in the article Your Goals Suck and included in my upcoming book, Parenting from Out of Bounds, this is a simple word exchange I’m going to throw your way. 

I want to share it with you as I’m positive it will make an immediate impact in your life.

Like a lot of great lessons, it starts with a story.

I was at my kid’s elementary school talent show.  It’s what you would expect- a lot of young boys and girls jumping around, singing and overall silliness and cuteness. Regardless of actual talent, it takes guts and serious confidence to get up in front of your friends, let alone in front of adults and do anything.  Many adults lack this skill and sureness themselves. To see young ones doing it is gratifying for me. There have been libraries of self-help books for this topic-confidence, especially in front of a crowd, written over the years.   

These kids have it…the confidence. I love my kid’s school for this fact above all others.  They are all incredibly self-confident kids and I think that is hard to teach. There is so much more than math, reading and grades taught during these developmental years!  

Our kids need confidence over all other traits.  For their life and their mindset, confidence and coolness trumps all others. It’s the confidence killers like being scared, nervous, being made fun of, lost self-worth, dependence on what others think or say or my all-time worst…caring about Facebook thumbs up “likes” or more likely, the lack of. These negative actions suck confidence dry and create shallowness, overcompensation and fakeness.  Agh!

Kids, I want you to just be you. Own you!! That goes for adults too.

So yes, getting back to the talent show, there were a couple of acts that were good (homemade rap about your school over a track beat anyone?!) but one thing in particular really stood out.  A Universal “Pillar of Life” thing I nearly missed and would have just chalked up as “cute” a few short weeks ago.

One of the performers, Sophie, a wee kindergartener, was up there for her first ever talent show.   That’s young to be up in front of a bunch of adults.  She’s cool, the school loves her and she was up there on the stage with her brother, whom despite being a 2x “talent show champion” totally bit the bullet to ride one out there with his baby sister and give her a taste of the limelight.

Before the music started she got giggly.  Nearly a bout of uncontrolled laughter and nerves crept up and she just reined it under control. The mic happened to be on and all of us in the crowd caught Sophie’s laughs and her whispered  “Oh Phew, I’m soooo excited.”

Did you catch that? The world changing idea that will turn your universe upside down?

I would have missed it a week or two ago.

She was excited.

Not nervous.  Not scared.


This word use, by a kindergartener no doubt, is a subtle shift in language but a tremendous earthquake of incredibleness in how she perceives the world.

–My son, a 10-year-old, has been struggling with hitting a baseball.  I’m a coach and sports trainer and am used for all kinds of teaching in my profession and even lecture for the National Strength Coaches Association.  Having a sports background and being some level of an “expert” in performance it has bugged me that I can’t help my own kid get contact with a baseball. It’s been a real struggle and because his swing is really good looking, nobody, including me, wants to switch much up. He has a great baseball coach and a swing coach that really helped him (see article Why We’re not The Experts for Our Kids) but he still struggles on game day.

My wife, equally frustrated, one night shared a Facebook link for a guy named Clint McGill.  Clint has a promo for his batting system (Baseball Notes with Clint McGill) that at first I was hesitant to look at as my son was already seeing a coach, it was too much pressure on him, because I myself am a pretty good coach, he’ll get it soon enough or I’m his freaking dad and I know a lot….ok, ok –pick the excuse… I’ll look at the link already.

I didn’t have to buy anything. Clint offers a ton of free advice and just the initial ad had me captivated as his system bucks the traditional. In fact, it is so unconventional that it’s right up my alley. We’re subscribers now. What’s great about this system is that I get more life lessons from Clint, than baseball. Weekly it seems. Some are intentionally done and some subliminally. He’s that good. The thing that has still resonated with my son (who hits the stuffing out of the ball now) and me is this exact idea I saw Sophie point out the other day.

I’ll explain with a brief summary of Clint McGill….(My words here. But I imagine this is what he’d sound like…)

“Hey kid (and by kid I mean listen up dad),  You know the nerves you feel when you’re at bat?…the willies, the scared strange anxious sensation…yeah, you know that one?  Well, it turns out, that feeling is not nerves, anxiety or anything negative like that after all. 

Yeah really. 

 It turns out that’s excitement.  That’s what excitement feels like.  It’s amazing, it feels great and pumps you full of positive energy and it means you’re ready for this. It’s normal.  It’s wanted. It’s your new best friend. That incredibly fantastic feeling is not only great for you, it’s necessary if you want to perform well.  In baseball. In Life.  At Anything.  Forever. And it’s all right there, for free, every time you get up to bat or for that case any time you need a dose. Dude. You feel it? You are soooo ready for this.”


Maybe the all-time best advice I have ever heard in my life – and that was on his free intro advertisement for the system! A Buddha-esque, lightbulb cartoon over my head, Matrix awakening up to- experience! A paradigm shift that resonates with me on such a primal level I honestly felt shaken.

The first time I relayed this idea to my kids we were all driving to school, they didn’t respond. Crickets.

They were digesting this information at such a level it shut them completely up and made an immediate change to how they saw and performed in the world.

Back to Sophie. Her parents kick butt! They had either instilled this in her passively or most likely by good intention and progression. Sophie bleeds confidence and energy and cheer to everyone that has ever been lucky enough to meet her. Despite her setbacks and challenges, she faces (if you only knew) – this girl crushes life and in her moment to shine she felt…well…excited!

Imagine what you could accomplish, what our kids can accomplish and what our world becomes the moment we’re not scared, or leery, or nervous  – but are in fact ready, dialed in and excited.  It’s incredible!

So from me, via Clint and Sophie – Shift your words, shift your world.

Now get out there and Win at Life!

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