Strut A Little
Confidence is self-belief. It is having faith in your own abilities.
Confidence is just a surplus of positive thoughts impacting your attitude. When you are consciously or subconsciously thinking more good thoughts than bad thoughts, you will have confidence. It is that simple.
We have all had an area of our life where we did not feel confident. Maybe it was delivering a public speech, stepping into the batter’s box against a really good pitcher, or playing an instrument that we were completely uncomfortable with. Our confidence, or lack thereof, was and always will be a function of our thoughts.
I remember my first couple of college baseball games. I had a severe bout with self-doubt. I had a major lack of confidence. My first 4 college at-bats were absolutely miserable. I doubted my own abilities. Physically, I was as ready as ever, but mentally, I was defeated. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to be playing in the NCAA.
Just 10 months prior to my first college at-bat I was having the best season of my life. I was the starting Shortstop, I was selected to play in the state all-star game, I was voted the MVP of my high school team and I was hitting almost .400 facing some of the best high school players in the state. Most of which went on to get drafted or play Division I college baseball. So what happened in the 10 months that made me question my own ability? How do I go from having an incredible season to feeling that I had no business playing in college? The answer was pretty simple – intimidation. I allowed outside influences to intimidate me. I allowed my mind to become infected with thoughts of failure and insecurity.
If I rewind back to my first high school baseball tryout I can find a similarity. I was 14 and I was stepping onto the field with a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds. I was intimidated then too. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to play high school baseball. That’s when my dad gave me the best advice I have ever received in my life. He told me that I needed to “strut a little”, when I walked onto the field to tryout for the high school baseball team. He told me I needed to have some swagger to overcome my self-doubt and intimidation. He wanted me to be cocky.
What my dad realized at that time, that I didn’t, was that confidence begins between your ears. It begins in your mind. If you believe you belong somewhere, you will live up to those thoughts. If you are constantly worrying and questioning your own abilities you are going to fail.
My dad’s advice empowered me. It replaced my timidity with confidence. It was an engineered attitude. It produced a surplus of good thoughts in my head. These good thoughts translated into a great tryout and a great high school baseball career.
Moving on to college, I had a bit of a relapse. My self-doubt was at an all-time high. I was nervous. This happens to a lot of people. A new environment can be intimidating and it takes a lot of hard work to overcome your own negative thoughts.
I know when I stepped into the batter’s box for my first college at-bat, I was overmatched. I had faced better pitchers in high school, but I doubted myself again. I didn’t know if I belonged on the college baseball field. As soon as that dominating thought took over, I was destined to fail. It took a full day of getting my ass kicked to realize that I needed to regain my confidence. I went 0 for 4 and looked absolutely terrible. I was swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones hit the glove for strikes. I was swinging at curveballs and letting fastballs soar right down the middle. My swings were defensive. I wasn’t trying to win, I was trying not to lose. I truly looked like I didn’t belong on a college baseball roster those first few at-bats. I couldn’t really explain it. I knew I could play but I couldn’t control my fears at that time. I was so worried about performing and making a good impression that I forgot to have fun and play the game that I loved with confidence.
After my first awful weekend of college baseball my dad and I talked. My dad reminded me to “strut a little”. He reminded me of my tryout in high school. He reminded me that I belonged on that roster and that I was going to turn it all around. He reminded me to have faith in my abilities and to trust all the work I had done to become the baseball player I was. His pep talk was exactly what I needed to turn my attitude around.
It didn’t happen overnight, but I slowly regained my confidence. The batter’s box was no longer frightening. I was once again comfortable. I knew I belonged there and the rest of my at-bats that season were much better. My 5th at-bat I put a good swing on a ball and hit a deep fly ball to right field. It was caught, but it gave me some confidence. My next 2 at-bats were even better. They were both outs, but I hit the ball with authority. Then, it finally happened. My first hit in college. It was in my 8th at-bat and took a fastball on the outside corner down the right field line for a single. The rest was history. My self-doubt was crushed and I was back!
This lesson has so many applications. You may not be a fan of sports, but that doesn’t mean you can’t “strut a little”. Whatever it is that you do, do it with confidence. There are always going to be moments in life that intimidate you. There will be moments where you question your own ability. The term “fake it ‘till you make it” has a lot of power. Confidence and performance all start in your mind. If you can win the mental battle, you are going to win the real battle.
Next time you feel intimidated or consumed with self-doubt, force yourself to stand up tall and proud. Stick your chin up. Smile with confidence. Believe in yourself. Don’t even entertain a negative outcome. If you fail, fail with confidence. You’ll always have another opportunity. Don’t forget, there is always somebody watching, so don’t forget to strut a little.