Sunday, July 10, 2005

Shy Time

So a friend asked me about shyness and I've been digging around the web researching it.

It's very painful for kids. I know my son has some friends who are really shy and they wrestle with it day in and day out. To the point of tears.

Here's an interesting link about helping your children overcome shyness. It's very interesting to me in a context of how we deal with failure.
Emphasize creative problem-solving. As shy people, we tend to worry a lot. We're afraid things won't turn out the way we want them to and we're crushed if they don't. It's hard for us to see that failure is a natural part of learning. Instead, we do everything in our power to avoid it and we kill our creativity in the process.

One of the most important things you can teach your children is that failure provides the feedback we need to become good at the things we choose to do.

If at first we don't succeed, try try again. The ability to see our problems as challenges and failures as feedback---as information about what we need to do next---strengthens our confidence by reminding us that just because we didn't succeed at first, doesn't mean we won't succeed in the end.

Teach your children to think creatively. Show them how to brainstorm---how to generate more than one solution for their problems. Help them come to see themselves as scientists whose job is to test their solutions until they find the best one.

Prepare them for disappointment, but teach them to persevere until they find an answer that works. What scientist do you know that solves life's riddles on the first try? Scientists are paid to make mistakes, because that's how they succeed. Sure they get disappointed, but a good scientist doesn't give up until the failures s/he's made provide the knowledge s/he needs to succeed. Thomas Edison was said to have tried thousands of filaments before he found one that worked to make a light bulb. And oh, by the way, did you know he was shy, too?

* Build creative problem-solving into your child's life.

* Get in the habit of generating multiple solutions to each problem. Three is usually enough when you're in a hurry.

* Refrain from evaluating solutions until you're finished generating them. Evaluations shut down the creative process by making people defensive.

* When possible, test each solution empirically. Try going home from the store four different ways to see which is fastest. Call three Chinese restaurants on Saturday night and see which one has the best prices.

* Reward your children for trying as much you reward them for succeeding.

The goal is to teach your children to think creatively and to understand there is more than one way to be successful. The hope is that by teaching creativity and the ability to learn from feedback, your children will become more self-confident and better able to both deal with and learn from disappointment.

When you consider shyness in the context of creativity and innovation -- it's obvious that taking risks and failing is just part of the process of succeeding.

I've been in sales and in other fields where rejection is just part of your day. I figure selling must be a shy person's idea of pure hell. Being a salesperson guarantees the majority of people who you are dealing with, will say NO to you.

But I guess this is the acid test for whether or not you're shy. If I had 10 rejections and 2 glimmers of interest when I was selling, I was all excited about the 2 guys who showed interest. Did I get down? Sometimes, but mostly you know the 10 people who said NO didn't personally reject YOU, they simply didn't need what you were selling or had already bought one or just weren't in the mood to talk. It's not personal.

This phrase fascinates me, "We're afraid things won't turn out the way we want them to and we're crushed if they don't," from the text above.

The idea that things turn out the way you want them to -- IS INSANE. What is really fascinating in life is that WE RARELY KNOW HOW THINGS WILL TURN OUT -- and that's what's really terrific and entertaining. To expect an outcome and then be "crushed" when it doesn't turn out "the way you wish," is just completely NUTS to my mind.

So okay, I'll leave the shy kids discussion and the salesman discussion and get to the meat of it -- shyness when you're trying to find a relationship. A whole other ballgame. The rejection there IS PERSONAL and not so easy to deal with sometimes. But being crushed?!? Come on, get up, dust yourself off, rumor has it there are a lot more fish in the sea.