Authors: Steve Sullivan
Now here is where you earn your pay. You decide where and when that application takes
place. The object is to generate success because success builds confidence and confidence
is the accelerant. Confidence is the flash point for momentum. Momentum is a precursor
Once the victory is achieved, the third step kicks in: recognition. You applaud the
achievement. You highlight the effort. You praise the dedication. You run it up the
flagpole. You hand out a medal. Buy a plaque. Put a star on a helmet. What’s important
is that you acknowledge the achievement because people respond to praise. Praise builds
confidence. More praise more confidence. More confidence more success. More success
more confidence. Linear becomes circular. Get the process started and it feeds on
If you don’t remember the statistic in the 1971 State Championship game here it is
again. The second best team in the state of Virginia had minus five yards against
the Titans. Confidence dominated the day. Building confidence has always been at the
core of my coaching philosophy. It’s so fundamental to winning that I’ve never understood
anyone would attempt to diminish a player. I know it can happen by accident.
As a coach you have a bag of psychological tools at your disposal. If you’re any good,
you use the right tool at the appropriate time. It’s not an exact science but with
practice and experience you’ll hit the mark more often than not. I’ve tried to make
players feel proud, I’ve attempted to generate a feeling of guilt, I’ve made them
question their dedication and inspect their loyalty. But the one thing I won’t do
is tear someone down. Nobody excels when feeling low. When you destroy confidence
you contaminate the fuel that ignites the spirit. You remove the catalyst for self-esteem.
You handcuff the governor of excellence. After years of fits and starts it finally
came to me. Confidence is a critical performance driver and it will make the difference
between winning a championship or watching one.
There are a few things you need to know about confidence:
♦ Confidence Is Combustible
It was one of the most arduous mountain climbing legs in the Tour de France. Lance
Armstrong had been struggling getting up the mountain. As the camera panned to his
face you could see the agony that reflected the fire in his legs. The camera showcased
his number one competitor who looked a third as tired and twice as strong. At this
point in the tour many of the newscasters believed Lance’s days in the sun were over.
As he moved up the mountain, his bike came precariously close to a fan standing on
the side of the
road. Something caught Armstrong’s handlebars and he and his bike were wrenched to
the ground. Everyone watching was in shock. Because the Tour de France is won by seconds,
a newscaster proclaimed that the end of Armstrong had come. Lance didn’t become Lance
by accident. He had a reservoir of courage that was bottomless. Somehow, within seconds,
bruised and bleeding he was on the go. As he began to pass his competitors something
marvelous happened. His confidence was ignited. The pain vanished from his face as
the energy erupted in his body. He blew by riders as if they were standing still.
Some believe it was the greatest comeback in cycling history. Armstrong went on to
win his fifth Tour de France. Confidence was the generator that shot him up the mountain.
What happened with Lance is not unique. Since the beginning confidence has played
a role in victory. For as long as people have attempted to excel, confidence has been
at the core. History records incredible feats. Confidence was that inner voice that
whispered to “get in the ring” and then commanded to “stay there.” Because of confidence
less became more and wannabe’s became winners. When confidence is present anything
♦ Confidence Is Infectious
Because confidence is a state of mind when it erupts it travels at the speed of thought.
Remember the 1993 Super Bowl? Both teams got there by winning. Both teams were confident.
The Buffalo Bills had made it four times. Rightly so, they were being called
one of the greatest teams in NFL history. Their talent was immense and their egos
huge. In a pre-game interview standing next to the announcer they looked awesome.
After the game only one was a winner. The Bills were called “losers.” They weren’t
losers; they just hadn’t won. Not surprisingly, after being chastised for their loss,
they started to show the psychological effects. In four quarters they had morphed
from athletic giants into a dispirited dwarfs. They seemed small and insignificant.
They were apologetic. They were sad. I felt pity. The next season they were not themselves.
As matter of fact, they haven’t been themselves since 1993.
For a long time I’ve known that confidence turns meek into mighty. On that day, I
learned that confidence was a double-edged sword. I’ve seen similar situations. What
I continue to marvel at is the speed at which it happens. I’ve come to the conclusion:
♦ Confidence Is Fragile
Guard it, protect it, shelter it, and defend it. Confidence is breakable and when
it has been broken the mighty become the meek.
Most people have a self-centered interpretation of reality. As a result, they have
imposed an artificial ceiling on their
ability. They can’t help it. It comes from going through life in their skin. Your
job is to introduce them to a new reality. It took me a long time to figure that out.
My only excuse is that I wasn’t developed. Learning is an evolutionary thing and comes
from experience. The more you get, the better you are.
The Long-Awaited Reunion With Daughter Susan Gail
Ralph Davis Before He Became “King of Crabcakes”