Confidence is “Humility”

“One of the most important components for building confidence is humility”. This is a surprising statement. However, I could not argue with the man who made it.

His job was to protect important people in hostile places. If our Vice-President made a surprise trip to Iraq, this man’s job was to keep him alive.

Everything about his job demanded planning, execution, and perfection. If he operates at 99-percent, someone can die. He was fascinated with my job so I asked what he had learned that could help our pitchers. He said, “Do not be cocky. If you are cocky, you do not double-check yourself.”

He went on to explain that confidence is knowing that you have thought of every possible scenario and practiced dealing with it over and over. He said that, when everyone else has left the range, he is still practicing with his weapons. Though he has carried the same handgun for years, every single morning he disassembles it, checks every part, lubricates each piece, puts it together, and makes sure everything works smoothly. He must always be ready and confident for that one second that could change everything. Cocky people, on the other hand, think so highly of themselves that they feel they can handle any situation as it arises, so planning and practicing small details are beneath them.

As a pitcher, if you make a mistake, people do not die. One of the reasons we enjoy competition is that it allows us to push ourselves to the limit without those serious consequences. However, some of the same rules apply.

If we enjoy some success, it is easy to assume that it will continue. We constantly see kids who were great early in the career, began to believe the press releases, and did not prepare every day with the same sense of urgency. Everyone told them they would be amazing, they became cocky, and by the time they got to us we had to rebuild them in every way. Once upon a time, these kids were more athletic and stronger than the competition, so they assumed this would always be the case. Cockiness led to failure. Failure led them to look for things they should have considered long ago.

Confidence, on the other hand, comes from the humility of knowing that what you did yesterday is not good enough. The better you are, the harder hitters and coaches will work to find chinks in your armor. You can wait until they expose your weakness, or you can identify it first. It is important to practice every scenario over and over until it is habit, and constantly challenge yourself in ever more difficult ways.

Always, always double-check yourself. Be humble enough to seek answers and do the little things that build confidence. And, always know that the things you did yesterday are not necessarily the things you will need to do in order to be great tomorrow.

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