Gaining Confidence and Hope

He started out thinking he would become a Catholic priest but dropped out of the Seminary after four years of the six year program.  He then went to college when he received a football scholarship.  When he graduated, the Great Depression was in full force.  He enrolled in law school after failing in a few jobs.  But he decided to drop out of law school after one semester due to low grades.

His career plans changed when he was offered the position of head football coach and a teacher of Latin, chemistry and physics for $1,000/year.  During his time at the high school, his teams won six championships.  But even more important, he began to gain confidence that he had found a career.

Over the next several years, he was an Assistant Coach at the college level and eventually the NFL.  Again his confidence grew, but also was unsure if he hopes of a head coach position would ever be realized.  He hoped to be a head football coach in the NFL or at a top university.  He never got the opportunity.  He was told by an expert that he possessed minimal football knowledge and lacked motivation.  But he never gave up hope based on the confidence he had gained in his prior coaching jobs.

Eventually, Vince Lombardi did get a head coaching job in the NFL and is considered to be the greatest coach of all time.  The Super Bowl trophy is named after him.  While he has the reputation of being a tough disciplinarian, he was the first coach to accept gays on his team.  He was also a pioneer in his acceptance of players of color.  His hopes and confidence allowed him to break through the prejudices that existed in football.

Hopeful confidence is a gradual process that at times may seem to be invisible as we make our way through life. Hopeful confidence most often evolves from small successes, not big breakthroughs.  It can also come from failures if they are viewed as a learning experience.

One of the greatest challenges to hopeful confidence is relying upon the hurtful voices of others who can often undo the small gains one makes.  Perhaps the most important step in hopeful confidence is being able to do an honest reflection of progress being made.

Hopeful confidence is not something to brag about to others.  It should be maintained as an internal sense of one’s achievements.  In a same manner, gains in confidence are not motivated by awards or other forms of recognition.  Instead, they are motivated by personal pride and hopes.

One wonders how Vince Lombardi could have sustained his hope of becoming a head football coach when others were so discouraging.  What might be the “secret sauce” to the development of hopeful confidence when one is discouraged by others?  How might we motivate the self-driven gains in confidence in a society that has become overly reliant on external evaluations?  Can gains in hopeful confidence be achieved without having a sense of what one wants to achieve in life?

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“Trust yourself you know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock (pediatrician)

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