There is no better gift to give your children than to instill them with a sense of confidence. I spend a good deal of my time teaching this philosophy to my clients, and yet I have watched myself over and over again instinctually protecting my young sons from scary or unfamiliar situations. How are they going to build confidence unless they overcome life’s challenges? Putting your head underwater and swimming is scary stuff the first time around, so I avoided teaching my children how to swim FOR YEARS simply because I didn’t want to freak them out. Then I met Conrad Cooper (www.swimtome.com).

His philosophy is simple. Swimming is a life skill. It’s not supposed to be fun in the beginning, but it’s essential that children understand water safety and know how to swim to the edge of the pool. Bottom line… it can SAVE THEIR LIVES. I had heard of his training through a friend of mine who had taken her water-phobic son for lessons and within the second hour of instruction, he was swimming like a champ. I knew I had found my teacher.

I signed up both my boys for five one-hour lessons, five mornings in a row. The morning of the first lesson, the boys were clutching my legs, begging me to take them home. I waited patiently with the other nervous parents before the class began, some of them wrestling shrieking children desperate to leave. It was tense. Suddenly, Conrad glided into the water without so much as a splash. He emerged silently and invited the children into the water one by one. Here is where it got interesting.

When a child does not want to do something they will use every device they can think of to get out of it… negotiation, crying, anger, you name it. It’s as if they know, subconsciously, they they can manipulate the audience in front of them. Conrad is 100% committed to empowering them with the confidence to swim. He is firm, yet deeply compassionate. He is gentle, yet serious. He KNOWS that children are capable when they pretend not to be. He’s not buying into their bluffs.

Within minutes of meeting each child, he glided them underwater. When my son pleaded, “But I can’t!”, he stated calmly, looking straight into his eyes, “Yes, you can.” And underwater they went. Again and again he led the children through their fear and into their confidence. He kept a comforting hand on their torso but allowed them the freedom to seek their own safety. He called them out on their excuses and rewarded them with high-fives when they deserved them. It was astonishing.

Yes, my children were learning how to swim, but they were learning something else even more valuable. They were learning how to overcome their fear. How to rise to a challenge and succeed. Conrad Cooper was teaching them how to find their inner strength. So I asked myself, what is his secret?

Fear cuts our energy and sabotages our success. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you are stopped by fear, you are limiting your potential. Period. When I watched Conrad in action it was as if he was a warrior, steadfastly pursuing a goal but completely and compassionately in-tune with the journey. The children TRUSTED him, they BELIEVED in him and then they turned that trust and belief inward.

No one wants to put their head underwater the first time. No one wants to give an important speech in front of an audience the first time… or give a media interview the first time. First-times are scary, but if we avoid them our whole life, we are missing the FUN that awaits on the other side. Be gentle but firm with yourself. Trust and believe that you can do it. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Just ask my kids. After a few days of lessons, they exclaimed with glee, “I CAN SWIM!”

For more information about Conrad Cooper, visit: swimtome.com

If you’re ready to tackle your fear of speaking, check out out my upcoming workshop: FEAR BE GONE Yes, you can!

P.S. Make sure you follow me on Twitter for more inspirational stories and messages like this!

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