Tag Archives: self-confidence

A Promise, a Dream, and a Mom’s Love (Michael Byron Smith)

Michael Byron Smith shares how his single-parent mom kept her family together through difficult times, how he managed to keep a promise and fulfill a dream, and why mentoring is so important today. We present, “A Promise, a Dream, and a Mom’s Love.”


A Promise, a Dream, and a Mom's Love, Michael Byron Smith)How a child is raised has an undeniable impact on his or her success and happiness. Everyone would agree with that, but many ignore it anyway.

Occasionally, children raised in a stressful or unloving atmosphere achieve while others, raised in the same atmosphere, or even in a seemingly ideal situation, do not. However, I think most experts agree, with little doubt, that having two savvy and involved parents is a huge advantage in the mental health of a child. Children without that advantage can succeed, but they will struggle more than necessary. I lived this scenario and I’ve seen others in my family both fail and succeed, but the successes have been far fewer.

Big Job for a Ten-Year-Old

As I turned ten years of age, I was in a situation that required me to babysit my five younger siblings. My father was absent and my mother had to work to support us. She was only 27 years-old with six children to feed. My youngest brother was not even a year old. Thinking back on this is a frightening picture; back then, it was normal to me!

It wasn’t every day that I had to do this, just on occasions when nothing else would work out for my mother. My memories of these days are not totally clear. What I do know is that my father abandoned us. Where he was in the world at that time I do not know. Where and how he spent his earnings, other than on alcohol, is a mystery. But more mysterious to me is how a person could abandon his young children.

Some may think my mother should have never left us alone, but she was without alternatives. I don’t know how she got through the pressures of being a single mom with a tenth-grade education. All I do know is she did not abandon us and worked to exhaustion to raise and support her children.

Not surprisingly, a ten-year-old placed in charge of his brothers and sisters doesn’t get much respect. My eight-year-old brother would challenge me and aggravate everyone else. My five and three-year-old sisters were typical little girls getting into stuff and fighting. My two youngest brothers were a two-year-old toddler and a baby under a year old. Basically, I was there to keep them from injuring themselves or each other; I’d call Mom if someone got hurt badly.

Why am I writing this, exposing my family’s dirty laundry? It is obviously not to brag, nor am I asking anyone to feel sorry for us, but to share a story of hope. Hope, however, needs action – mostly our own action to meet our challenges head-on. It is up to each individual, but many kids don’t know what to do, or how to do it.

I don’t know where we lived when I was ten because we moved quite often, and I didn’t have many childhood friends. Because of this, I was much more comfortable around women than men. Being a shy, skinny, and often new kid, I was like shark-bait to the local bullies common in poorer neighborhoods. My self-defense plan was invisibility, staying indoors or peeking around corners before proceeding. It wasn’t even close to an ideal upbringing.

Tough Beginnings Mean Extra Work

Needless to say, this was not the best start for any young person. The difficulties my siblings and I experienced pale in comparison to the challenges too many young people suffer. But preventable struggles, like struggles caused by my father’s parental neglect, should never happen.

How did we all do coming out of this situation? Beyond the challenges all kids face as they mature, we all had extra demons to defeat, some struggling with those demons more than others. We’ve had teen mothers, a lack of a high school education, truancy, poverty and some minor drug and alcohol use, with following generations dealing with some of the same problems. Of the six of us, three extended families are doing well, while three families are still struggling to one degree or another.

Fortunately, I did not have any of the problems described above, but I did have others. The most challenging to me was a serious lack of confidence in myself. I believe my five siblings also suffered from this and other psychological issues. I broke out of this cycle of despair more successfully than my siblings because of two things: 1) a promise I made to myself and, 2) a dream.

The Power Of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithThe promise was to never be poor! Not to be rich, but not to be poor – an error I will discuss later. My dream was to be a pilot, a dream of many young boys. But in my case, it was more of a passion. I knew that I would have to do it on my own because I didn’t know how to ask for help. Mentoring was not something of which I was aware, and being shy didn’t help. Certainly, someone would have mentored me had we stayed in one place long enough. (I apologize immensely to those I have forgotten who did give me help and advice, especially my many teachers.)


Being a mentor is a wonderful way to help anyone who could use advice or guidance! My book, The Power of Dadhood, is, in fact, a mentoring book intended to teach fathers to how to mentor their children. It may be obvious, by now, why I wrote this book.


My dream of being a pilot seemed so distant, like a star in another galaxy, but I kept my focus. This dream supported my goal of never being poor. It is amazing what one can do when they have a dream as a goal backed up by a promise. I also had two distant people that I looked up to: Jack Buck, the announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Jimmy Stewart, my favorite actor and a US Air Force pilot himself. I admired their values and personalities. Never was there a bad word said of either, not by anyone I would respect. It was to my benefit to invent my own mentors because everyone needs role models and teachers.

A Dream, a Promise, and a Mom's Love, Michael Byron SmithI succeeded in my keeping my promise and achieving my dream. I have never been poor since the moment I graduated from college. I also became a US Air Force pilot and loved every part of that experience.

But it wasn’t easy! The required steps to make my dreams come true were demanding, but not really the issue. The toughest hurdles in this journey were the exaggerated and fabricated hurdles I put upon myself, thinking I was not worthy! The hurdle of self-worth will also cause one to underestimate their potential. I should have had a goal to be rich; instead, I just hoped to not be poor. I’m doing very well but what if……?

In Closing

My message here is two-fold. The first message is that anyone with a dream can overcome obstacles. That is a common theme of encouragement, but your self-imposed obstructions are the first and most important to overcome. There is no need of having a fifty-pound dead weight on your back when you’re climbing Mt. Everest. This or any other test in life has its very own challenges to conquer and that extra, unnecessary weight could cause you to fail.

The second message is the desperate need today for parents and other mentors to help young people grow. Having proper mentoring and a decent childhood atmosphere will help a child avoid unnecessary burdens. A much easier and effective way to be successful, of course, is to not have those extra burdens in the first place. Children raised in a good, nourishing home will have a head start because their lives have been streamlined, not encumbered with self-imposed friction and speed bumps. If the number one factor in a successful life is self-reliance, a very close second would be the way one is raised and mentored.

I challenge parents and all adults to be aware of the needs of the young people around them. Your help and guidance will save them from being an adversary and/or an obstacle to themselves. It just takes a kind word or a bit of attention. ###

Michael Byron Smith is the author of The Power of Dadhood [website]. He also hosts the “Helping Fathers to be Dads” blog.


Why Failure is a Good Thing (Mehdi Toozhy)

BTAboutThemLife teaches us that in every mistake we learn a lesson. Failure is a step to success because every mistake teaches us something. Failure is not a loss, but a mindset.

Mehdi ToozhyThis past winter snow and ice covered my neighborhood. When I took my daily walks, I inevitably ended up slipping and was a laughing matter for few onlookers. I learned from this and the next day I got an anti-slip bracelet for my boots. Now I can take longer walks and go on icier trails.

Failure is etched in our mind as a negative thing. It is like looking at the coin and only seeing one side. The truth is humanity could not have achieved progress without the benefit of failure.

From a Motor to an Empire
To understand why failure is a good thing, we must first change our attitude toward it. Putting emotion aside, failure is the opportunity to gather valuable information in order to make the next attempt successful.

An example is Japanese businessman Soichiro Honda. He was a Japanese engineer, industrialist, and the founder of Honda automobile and motorcycle industry. He famously declared:

Success represents the 1 percent of your work which results from the 99 percent that is called failure.


He started in a woodworking shop. He failed many times on his journey to develop this multinational business. His initial project was working on devising a motor for the bicycle. This motor eventually led to the creation of the Honda motor. Every failure brought him closer to his goal. His attitude toward failure can teach us success is an outcome of repeated failure.

What Nature Teaches Us
Next, how does nature teach us about failure? Lions, the king of the animal kingdom, repeatedly fail. Studies have shown that most hunting attempts of the lion end up in failure. It has been observed that when hunting as a team, only 4 out 10 hunts end in success.

To become an expert in your own field one needs to consider failure as part of education or evolution. Niels Bohr, one of world greatest physicist declared his view on failure:

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a narrow field.


Pushing the Boundaries
In our world, we push the boundaries by building new structures, machines, reaching further into space and pushing the limits of science. There will be failures that lead to changes and improvements. In the future, super-fast computers will help us to become more efficient in learning from failures and we will bounce back faster after being knocked down.

Here are two simple steps to make your failure into success:

1. A Positive Attitude: When faced with a failure, step back and take a note of the reasons behind the failure.

2. Persistence: Find a role model and remind yourself your role model faced similar situations but kept trying. Positive thoughts are fuel for your mind.

Failure Shapes Success
So how did how failure shape (and continues to shape) our world in a positive way?

FlemingPenicillin, the wonder medicine, was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming. He was attempting to find a cure for other diseases, and through failures he discovered a fungus that was dissolving the surrounding bacteria. This fungus was the start of penicillin.

As with the discovery of penicillin, when a person fails in one area, it may lead to success in another area.

During my first year at University in Denmark, I failed to perform well in math and physics. I wondered about my next semester and the tougher challenges ahead.

Then I practiced a subconscious problem solving technique. That is to train my subconscious to do the problem solving. One can do this by going for a walk, taking a shower or watering the lawn. If one gets away from the problem, a solution can come quicker. I managed to master this technique and I scored perfect marks in many challenging subjects.

How can failure impact us? According to a study published in the Journal of Motivation and Emotion, failure can result in feelings of inferiority, fear of trying and lowering confidence. It is important to recognize these elements so they can be addressed. Failure impacts each person differently but the principle is the same.

What I do with my kids to remove fear of failure is to encourage them to try. For example, when my son fails to draw an animal on the paper, I tell him to look at the painting and see if it resembles any other animal. This helps to build his self-confidence and he is willing to try again. We managed to encourage by:

1. Persistence

2. Creativity

3. Self-Confidence

When your child fails, approach it with a constructive attitude. The Journal of Motivation and Emotion has proven that sad feelings from a difficult experience last longer than a pleasant and happy experience.

This knowledge requires parents to be mindful of support and encouragement that is needed to help their child out of the sad zone. Show your children examples in nature and emphasize the importance of persistence skills as key ingredients in going from failure to success. Examples are all around us. We need to learn how to see them.

Steps for Addressing Failure
The next time you see failure in your life or in your child’s life, consider the following steps.

1. Relax and take a deep breath.

2. Go to a quiet area and think what you can learn from this failure.

3. How can you takes lesson from this failure and apply to the next step.

4. Be a big-picture thinker and remind yourself now you are one step closer to getting things right.

Remember failure is simply part of natural human development. Every atom is from collapsed stars that failed to support their weight under immense gravitational force.

So relax and enjoy your journey toward success. ###

Mehdi Toozhy is a graduate of Oxford University and the renowned co-author of a scientific research paper published in the Journal of Sound and Vibration. He placed in the top 5 percent of students while studying at the Danish Technical University and achieved 100 percent in many of his challenging technical subjects. His proven study techniques, covered in his book, Keys to Success at School and Beyond, have helped many students worldwide to achieve success. For more information, go to www.MehdiToozhy.com.