Gaining Confidence

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 his frustrations.  He wanted 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 on the self-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 confidence allowed him to breakthrough the prejudices that existed in football.

Gaining confidence is a gradual process that at times may seem to be invisible as we make our way through life.  Confidence most often comes 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 gaining experience is relying upon the voices of others who can often undo the small gains one makes with a hurtful comment.  Self-confidence cannot be overly deferential to what others think.  Perhaps the most important step in gaining confidence is being able to do an honest reflection of progress being made.

Gaining confidence is not something to be trumped to others.  It should be maintained as an internal sense of ones 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.

One wonders how Vince Lombardi could have sustained his goal of becoming a head football coach when others were so discouraging.  What might be the “secret sauce” to the development of 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 self-confidence be achieved without having a sense of what one wants to achieve in life?

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Think about how much our society depends on leaders who have self-confidence in what is right in spite of what popular opinion might be.

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