Here’s a situation…

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Why wasn’t I pleased that everyone cheered for me?

 

Because nobody cheered for anyone else so it made me feel different.

It made me believe that before completing the wall run, nobody has expected me to complete it. Which made me realise the following…

I believe the biggest obstacle to women practising parkour is confidence.

And the biggest misunderstanding about confidence is that you gain it when people praise you

BECAUSE…

Too much praise suggests the achievement was a surprise, and what really builds confidence is:

an adjustment of expectation

I’ll illustrate what I mean. These practitioners have agreed to let me theorise on what my first impressions might be if I met them training:

 

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Flynn

Slight with a bumbly walk

He doesn’t look particularly strong

He’s probably amazing though

 

 

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Neil

He looks young enough to be my son

Definitely doesn’t look very strong

He’s probably amazing though

 

 

 

 

 

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Leon

Quite muscly really

He looks quite heavy

He’s probably amazing though

 

 

Building on this, we all know that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I might see Flynn do a dodgy handstand (he’s probably amazing though), I might see Neil failing a climb (and have… he’s probably amazing though), and you might see me stare at a jump that you can do and then watch me walk away from it… what I hope is that you think…

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To summarise:

  • We can help more women gain more confidence by having higher expectations of what they can achieve.
  • We should assume women can do the challenges they set for themselves.
  • We should probably only cheer if it’s something that the person themselves didn’t believe they could achieve, not something that we didn’t imagine they could achieve.

And…

It’s just a change in attitude

It’s super subtle

But it’s huge.

It’s kind of like ninja equality.

 

POSTSCRIPT: #ThisGirlCan

Since writing this blog post, the UK government has begun its new #thisgirlcan initiative to get more women into sports and exercise. The advertising campaign platforms women who aren’t athletes moving, sweating and not giving a flying squirrel what anyone else might think. It’s great. This kind of visual representation is hugely important but try as I do, I just can’t quite get behind the hashtag they’ve attached to it.

The idea that this girl “can” run, box, swim, etc. is from the world of low expectations again. It implies an element of surprise, it implies that nobody expected that this girl could.

Because of course she can, it’s the fact that she does that is cool.

#ThisGirlDoes

#TheseWomenDo