Challenge. Nothing gives a young man confidence like successfully facing a challenge. His identity grows, his self-respect grows, his belief in his ability to do hard things grows. Everything we do at Forte Strong is designed to challenge young men to grow in one way or another. As they live alongside other young men who are facing and overcoming their challenges, each young man begins to consider the idea that they too can meet and overcome their personal challenges, they begin to feel a desire to do more than the bare minimum they’re accustomed to doing.
As this desire grows and they experience the thrill of doing something new and different, the belief that they are capable of doing what needs to be done to take care of themselves grows too. They feel and act confidently. They focus more on learning, growth, strength and independence. As they get a taste for overcoming a challenge, they begin to thirst for more. They become more humble and open to listen to others who have experience, such as their parents, coaches, therapists and successful peers.
This is possibly the most remarkable and exciting change we see in the young men we work with: the confidence they gain each time they meet and overcome a new challenge. One aspect of meeting and overcoming challenges that often gets overlooked is the possibility or rather the reality of not getting the outcome they want. Commonly referred to as failure, it’s actually a learning process of doing something to see if it works or not and its crucial to building confidence. Maybe you’re thinking that doesn’t make sense, but the reality is, everyone acts in ways that result in something other than what they wanted and they made adjustments to their behavior until they got it. Some people refer to this as failing their way to success. We prefer to think of it as there is no failure, only learning. We are simply testing what works and what doesn’t.
We talk about challenges not only as a way to expand their horizons, we also talk about challenges as a way to change the belief that it’s not ok to make mistakes, because mistakes don’t really exist anyway, only learning. It’s ok to learn from every experience, and when they do something new, as long as they continue to test different behaviors until they find one that works, that’s what matters. Once students begin thinking in this way, challenges become fun.
We challenge young men to improve themselves, to do things differently for a change and expand their skills and talents and we use those challenges to teach them important lessons about life… about themselves and what they are truly capable of.