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Success and confidence: Which comes first?

As inspired by a like comment made by Tony La-Russa,

Long-time Major League Baseball manager and lawyer

I love baseball!  I love baseball quotes! I Iove baseball analogies!  Baseball is like life, hero one day, goat the next, and yet everyday you reset the score to “0-0”. Tony La-Russa, current Cardinals and past A’s manager gave an interesting interview on the topic of success or confidence, which comes first?  In the interview, he suggested that they actually have to be cultivated at the same time to support each other.

As it relates to baseball, think of the striving minor league baseball player who is a power-hitter in AAA, coming up to the big leagues and going 0 for 42. When will he get his first hit?  Will he break the curse?  What will it take? It takes the first hit to attain the confidence, and yet confidence is the key to getting the first hit! The same thing applies to a first day on a new job, a first trial as a lawyer, and on and on.

Anyone who has ever taken up a new avocation, profession, or skill knows that you need to build confidence to accomplish and admirably do the given task. The lawyer must feel and appear self-assured the first time a case goes to court. A surgeon must be sure and steady and confident the first time she does a “solo”. The tightrope walker must feel steadfast and confident when he steps off the pedestal and takes to the tightrope, bar in hand, with no net below.

Yet we are faced with the conundrum that confidence is built on past successes, building blocks of skills and abilities abstracted for our personal lifetime of experiences. Your successes, achievements, “wins” and personal victories help build the confidence you need to succeed

Challenge!  It seems you actually need them simultaneously, you need to have felt success to approach your work confidently, and you need to have confidence to succeed.

In other words, what do we do about “stage fright”?  Fear is a demon that can control us, stop us and prevent us from achieving success. 

Now we switch to violin playing. The great master teacher, Kato Havass, whom I had the honor to join in a number of workshops, says it this way as she tells us this story, (paraphrasing) ”That demon, the demon of stage-fright is always there, sitting on your shoulder.

It is small, infinitesimal, nonetheless, alive. It sits quietly on your shoulder, voraciously hungry for something to sustain its diabolical appetite, its wish to disable you.  That demon feeds on self-doubt, fear, anger, jealousy, envy, arrogance, but most importantly on lack of preparation.”

If you believe in yourself, meet and conquer fear, dissolve your anger, refrain from envy, jealously and arrogance, and move forward with humble resolve, and you are prepared you will feel the marriage of confidence and success at the very same moment, and know that you are there.


By Rick Concoff, copyright 2011

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