Creative Child

What Does a Confident Kid Look Like?

Like Someone Who’s Willing to Fail
by Deborah Song


Shreyas knew he would never end up on ESPN playing baseball. But he thought he might have a shot at winning the national spelling bee contest. He always loved to read. Shreyas’ parents were nervous about him pursuing such an ambitious venture. No parent wants to see their child disappointed or hurt. But they fully supported him.

“[My mom] says her biggest fear is of me getting hurt, of me failing and feeling horrible,” says Shreyas. “But I thank my parents everyday for it. They're letting me go out there and make those mistakes and learn from them. They're also giving me the resources and the support to go out there and succeed just as much.”

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Shreyas didn’t win the national spelling bee contest. His best friend did.

“I was so disappointed,” Shreyas said. “And I thought man, I wanted to be number one and I wasn't.”

But there’s often success even in failure, especially when pursuing a passion. Shreyas may not have won first place at the national level, but he did win the class spelling bee and the school spelling bee contest. And by experiencing these wins and failures, he was able to lay the groundwork for building his confidence.

“I would've never made it to the national stage had I been too afraid to try because of failure,” shares Shreyas.

It was a pivotal lesson that carried Shreyas forward and enabled him to pursue his next unlikely venture: giving a Tedx talk at just 13 years of age. The amazing feat was not that Shreyas gave the talk, but that Shreyas gave the talk before he was a kid CEO or had anything accomplished to talk about. The locally organized platform of short, carefully prepared talks that foster learning and inspiration first caught Shreyas’ attention after his eighth grade teacher introduced Tedx talks to his class.

He decided one day he wanted to do a talk himself and share a message about every child’s innate incredibility.

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Shreyas had no idea how do this at first. When he approached the same teacher for help, she told him to she couldn’t do the work for him and he would need to figure it out. In her, he may have had the best mentor, the kind who supports you without doing the work for you.

“Where I've learned the most is not from someone telling me, this is the answer,” says Shreyas. “It's from me figuring it out myself.” 

Shreyas cold-emailed 30 different Tedx organizers, and emailed one particular organizer five different times. He presented his seeming weakness (a kid with no experience), as a strength (having a kid speaker amidst a sea of grownups would add variety). And followed up email after email with a coy, “Did you get my email by any chance?”

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