The Masked Generation: Five Ways to Build Confidence by Tim Elmore


In our 2016 focus groups, held in four states across the U.S., we found students confiding in us that they felt very scared, very anxious and a lack of confidence. Their chief fears were not about using social media or technology, in general. Again, that’s where the masks showed up. Instead, they were frightened about:

  • Their future
  • Making good grades
  • The impact of terrorism
  • Getting a job they like
  • Getting into college
  • The future of the world

Other than that, they’re fine.

There is actually a term today called, “selfie-esteem.” Posting a good selfie can bolster the personal esteem teens hold for themselves. But there’s a downside. Overall, social media makes teens feel more self-conscious about their appearance. Social media makes teens feel as though they always need to be “camera ready.” There’s an angst that accompanies this constant “camera ready” posture.

Five Ways We Can Cultivate Confidence in Students

There are five fundamentals we can teach students that consistently raise their level of confidence. Let me remind you of these steps below:

1. Equip them in public speaking skills.

Communication and public speaking continue to loom as the largest fears Americans have in life. The contrary is true as well. When we build good public speaking skills, we tend to become more confident. Why not enroll them in a course?

2. Enable them to identify personal strengths.

My own self-confidence grew, as a middle school and high school student, when I found out I had a talent in art. My confidence rose as I cultivated this gift, eventually designing our school mascot. Teens need milestone accomplishments like this.

3. Teach them social etiquette.

The students I know who learn social graces and protocol tend to be more confident and self-assured. From learning manners and courtesy to knowing social codes in public places gives them an advantage they can actually feel.

4. Help them to focus and achieve in one category.

One big reason students lack confidence today is they feel overwhelmed. I’ve found if I can help a student narrow their focus, simplify their goals and achieve in one significant area, it tends to increase their confidence levels.

5. Empower them to serve.

It’s an irony of life. We become less assured when we are focused on ourselves. We become more self-assured as we learn to focus on serving others. Self-consciousness decreases self-confidence. Finding places to serve actually, serves the server.

Here’s to taking off the mask and putting on a genuine confident demeanor.

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