Confidence is Up To You

This entry is part 28 of 28 in the series Leadership

Confidence is one of those words players and coaches throw around all the time.

“He is confident in his ability to defend.”

“She is confident in her ability to score.”

“He has confidence in passing.”

“She has confidence in her ball handling.”

That word confidence is so fickle and so relative to the situation. There is so much context that surrounds whether someone is confident. Would Steph Curry be confident on an episode of The Voice?  Would Alicia Keys be confident in Game 7 of the Finals?  I don’t think there’s much argument, that a fish out of water isn’t going to be very confident. These are, of course, extreme examples, but they illustrate one point.

I think we see confidence levels vary all the time in sports based on the environment. Some players or teams play with different levels of confidence, based on the opponent. In some cases, weather can impact confidence levels. I would argue that players or teams whose confidence is affected by these outside influences aren’t truly confident.

What makes anyone confident? The reason Tom Brady is confident in the last second drive at the Super Bowl is the same reason Sergio Garcia is confident on the last hole of the Master’s. They didn’t just wake up one day with confidence. Their coach didn’t give it to them. They weren’t just born with it. There isn’t a magic confidence pill. They worked really hard to become confident.

I’ve been asked a few times in the last month about how I instill confidence in my players. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never made any player confident. I believe that players make themselves confident. I’m not good enough to give my players confidence. Coaches can put players in situations to help them gain confidence. We can help players understand what true confidence is and what it takes to become confident. I can help players figure out why they might not be confident and what they can do to change it. However, f they want confidence, they have develop it.

Confidence is a like any muscle. The only way to help it grow is to work at it. You can’t just watch other confident people. You can’t just talk about it. If you want to be a confident chef, get in the kitchen and cook. If you want to be a confident player, get in the gym and play.

In a world of entitlement and instant gratification, there are a lot of unconfident people. It’s a vicious cycle that we find ourselves in. We see confidence and we like it. We think we can just go get buy it, or that it’s someone else’s job to give it to us. Then we find 100 excuses why we aren’t confident which reinforces our behavior and makes us even less confident. If you want to be confident, put in the time and the effort. At some point, you’ll be confident and you won’t even have to pretend.



Holding Players and Ourselves Accountable

This entry is part 27 of 28 in the series Leadership

Coach Geno Aurriema’s comments regarding body language and holding players accountable in a recent press conference have been played, replayed, tweeted, and retweeted thousands of times. As coaches, we understand exactly what he’s saying. We agree with what he says. We might even play it over and over just to hear someone of his status say what we’ve been saying for years.

I believe, the difference between him and most of us is that he really does what he says and he applies it every single day. He really doesn’t care if he loses. (Nevermind they have won 108 straight games as of this post.) He cares that his players act the right way and think the right way all the time, regardless of the consequences. If he loses his job for holding players accountable, at least he knows he’s done the right thing regardless of the result.

There is a sentence that is very interesting in his comments. I think it can get overlooked, but to me it is the most important part of what he said.

At 1:37  “….other coaches might say well you can do that because you’ve got 3 other All Americans…”

I don’t think he would care how many All Americans he has on his roster. Most of us don’t coach All Americans, which means most of us don’t coach against All Americans either. Yet most of us worry about too much about winning and we let players get away with things that they shouldn’t get away with.

How many of us would be willing to sit our best player knowing we would lose?  Would we be willing to sit our starting five if necessary? What are our fears of holding players accountable?  Do we feel like we don’t have the support of our administration? Are we afraid that they might be mad at us or turn against us? Are we afraid of a phone call from a parent or a booster? Do we fear of the consequences of sitting our “best player”? If we sit our best player, we might lose. When we lose, we lose our jobs. We’ve worked so hard to get where we are. If we get fired, we will have a hard time finding another opportunity.

The problem is that if we don’t hold our players accountable, we will probably lose even more.

In today’s society, coaching is not getting any easier. Instant gratification, entitlement, and laziness are just a few of the obstacles we must fight daily. Maybe we are just as much a part of the problem because we enable and empower athletes to have these qualities. If we don’t hold them accountable, no one else will. We can’t expect them to hold each other accountable. The hardest part about coaching is holding ourselves accountable to what we know is right. The next hardest part is doing the same for those that we coach. It’s not easy to do, but it’s not easy to win 108 straight games either.


Give like the Sun

This entry is part 26 of 28 in the series Leadership

The Sun

The Sun burns to give us light and life every day. If you are too close to the Sun, you will burn up. Get too far away from the Sun and you will freeze. How amazing is it that we are just far enough away from the Sun to have life? According to scientists, the Sun is going to burn out in a few (thousand or million or billion) years. It will be difficult for us to exist without it. Do we recognize our dependence on the Sun?  Are we thankful for what it does for us, or do we complain that it is too hot or too bright? Or even worse, do we just take it for granted?

Furthermore, take the Sun out of our galaxy. Would you even notice it? Of course, it depends on your perspective. The few billion people on Earth would notice it, if we even had time to notice. If we are in one of the other few hundred billion galaxies looking at the Milky Way (based on this visualization from NC State), the absence of the Sun wouldn’t even make a Twitter post.

I try to be like the Sun for others. I hope to encourage them with hope and love. However, I’m sure that I burn too brightly for some people. I know I don’t burn bright enough for everyone, but I want to burn brighter. When I am not on this Earth anymore, most people won’t know that I existed in the first place. Just like when the Sun burns out, other solar systems and galaxies won’t miss our Sun. However, just like the Sun has a purpose to give life to us, I believe we are meant to be the Sun for others.

Just like Maya Angelou’s famous words…

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Remember though, there’s a difference between us and the Sun. The Sun has nothing giving it life. The Sun doesn’t have any help to serve its purpose. It is a good thing that the sun is strong enough to give us life without much help. While we might not be able to extend each other’s lives, we can help each other while we’re here. We can pour into each other and we can help each other help others. We can be the Sun for others and we can give hope and love to others. The Sun doesn’t ask for anything in return. It just burns. It just gives us life. Most importantly, how much better would this world be if we gave to others in the same way the Sun gives to us?


Why We Succeed or Fail?

This entry is part 18 of 28 in the series Leadership

I was recently asked a very interesting question by an athlete.  “Why do we fail?” Initially, I thought about different things like ability or confidence. Maybe it has to do with the opposition or outside distractions. Is it our diet or lack of rest or any of the other things that we attribute failure to?

While failure may result from these things, the most basic answer to that question is pretty simple and straightforward. We are human. It’s not because we aren’t good enough.  It’s not because we don’t think we’re good enough. It’s not because of the other team or things in our lives.  It’s not because of what we ate before the game or the fact that we partied all night long. It’s not the coach’s fault, or a teammate’s fault.

We fail, simply because we are supposed to fail.  We are human.  The question is not whether or not we will fail.  The question is whether or not we will learn from that failure.  The question is whether or not we will take each failure and better ourselves as a result.  We fail every day.  The key is do we recognize it? Do we do anything about it? Do we learn from it? Do we try to fail or do we fail to try?

Some might say this is a pessimistic view of life.  I would say it’s a realistic view of life. The reality is that we have the opportunity to make choices every day.  More times than not, we don’t choose correctly. More often than not, our humanity takes over. We fail constantly.

In fact, let’s hope that we fail. Edison found 10,000 ways to not make a light bulb.  Jordan missed 26 game winning shots, according to his famous quote.  Many artists, authors, and musicians die before their work is valued. Inventors must have hundreds of failed ideas before they truly invent anything.

Failure is not all bad.  Bob Knight may have said it best.  “Victory favors the team making the fewest mistakes.” However, his emphasis was on identifying and eliminating repeated mistakes. Notice that the victory doesn’t precede the failure.  Failure precedes the victory.

There is good news though. If we want to succeed, there is a way to do that. What is success?

For now let’s consider success the opposite of failure. How can we not fail?  How can we overcome our humanity? We really can’t. So shouldn’t we just accept it?  Instead of trying to be perfect, shouldn’t we just be the best we can be?

It sounds like we succeed because we identify and eliminate repeated mistakes.  We are going to make mistakes every day.  Can we learn to not repeat them? Can we learn to make new mistakes and learn from them?

We fail because we are supposed to. We continue to make the same mistakes because we choose to.  However, we succeed because we fail and choose to do better the next time.


Thoughts on Giving

This entry is part 15 of 28 in the series Leadership

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38

A player came in today and told a story about giving and how that she received more in return. She gave money, and received much more money in return. Witness to the truth of this verse, she was humbled by her experience and thankful for it. But then I asked, “What do you give to people who don’t need money?”

I wonder how much money is given all the time all over the world. There are numerous organizations who collect money and use that to feed, clothe, and care for people all over the world. To discount these efforts would be tragic and calamitous.

However, how often do we give love? How much do we give our ears? How much do we give compassion? How much do we give things that people really need that can’t be bought?

See the problem is that we give money, because we will get it back next week at work. We give clothes because we’ve collected so many over the years that we don’t even wear them all. We give food to people and will never miss it. Don’t get me wrong, these are good gifts.

I say give great gifts. We can give these things “in the name of love.” How much do we give love? How much do we show love? How much do we give things that can’t be bought and sold?

I wonder if we’re scared to receive that much love in return. Could we handle love in “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over?” That’s a lot of love…hope…faith…whatever it is you’re giving.

It’s easy to take a bunch of money and throw it in a bank account. What would we do with that much love?

I think it would make us want to give back. I think it would make us want to love even more. What kind of world would that create? How different might it be if we lived like that? We have to get outside of ourselves. We have to get out of our comfort zones. We have to give something that we can’t just get back in our paycheck next week.

If you gave your last dollar, then I’m sure you’ll never want for money again. Would you give your last bit of love away?