Confidence, another way of saying we’re self-assured, is a precious gift that we can give to ourselves. Fortunately, it can’t be bought in a store or online. Why do I say “fortunately?” because when we achieve a state of self-assurance, we have given ourselves one of the greatest gifts of all, and it’s always free. I would argue that if we could buy confidence, it would lose all of its value. There is a surprising bonus. Those who do achieve this gift, most often inspire others; almost to the point where it is contagious. Let me offer two illustrations and a meaningful conclusion on confidence.
The Basketball Coach
There is the true story of a great basketball coach who was once a professional player with tremendous abilities. After playing for a short time, he accepted a ride with four other teammates to the gym. As they were going down the highway, they swerved to pass a slow-moving vehicle, and the right rear tire blew. The flat tire caused the car to roll-over several times. Only one person was hurt, our coach.
The man was plunged into a coma and awakened to find he was paralyzed from the neck down. He hovered between life and death for several weeks. The physicians and nursing staff worked with him day and night to see if there was anything they could do. It looked hopeless until one day, an LPN came into the room and happened to notice a slight movement in his thumb. The doctors said that such action was impossible but every chance she got, she worked with him, and he willed his thumb to move, then his arm moved, then both arms. He regained feeling in his shoulders.
He decided that while he would never regain full function, he would relentlessly push himself to strengthen whatever he had. He chose not to give up. He worked his body 10 hours a day, yelling at the trainers to drive him to exhaustion. He went far beyond what anyone expected.
In time he became an advocate for those living with spinal injuries. He discovered wheelchair basketball and began to coach. He was such a good coach, one of his teams earned an Olympic gold medal. He also coached non-disabled high school players, and other players in recreational leagues who would make it to the pros.
When he talked to players, he commanded respect because they saw the confidence, he had in them. It came from the tremendous well of confidence he had in himself.
The Emergency Room Doctor
Joan is, perhaps the most competent and confident emergency department physician I have ever met. She heads a department at a major teaching hospital in Pittsburgh. Her co-workers and those under her supervision describe her as confident, demanding, fair, and outside of the hospital setting, “a giver.” She teaches children with learning disabilities. Teaching is her passion, and she has enlisted associates to devote teaching time along with her.
Her passion stems from her choice to not accept defeat. In high school, a guidance counselor discouraged her from going to college as a waste of time. Her grades were abysmal. She had a dream that almost everyone (except her mom) thought funny: she wanted to be a doctor.
Joan squeaked into community college. Her grades were good enough to gain her admission into a state university. Though she performed exceptionally well in some courses, her core science, and mathematics grades were terrible. Distraught, she went to the school psychologist. She explained she understood all of the work, but the numbers and formulations jumbled together to the point of freezing her from putting them down on paper.
The psychologist asked her if anyone ever diagnosed her with a learning disability. No, she wasn’t. She came from a mediocre school system where no one seemed to care. She was evaluated, and indeed, she knew the work but couldn’t relate it on a test. Her comprehension of the principles was off the chart.
For the next few years, she worked part-time as a substitute teacher and repeated every science course she ever took, using the learning principles she was taught. What were once D’s and C’s, turned to A’s. In time, she gained admission to medical school, and the rest is history.
Both the basketball player and the Emergency Room doctor came across as highly confident. Why? Because they chose to do something about their situations, to push away the negativity, and to not give in to defeat. In turn, they instilled their positive attitudes in others. True confidence is contagious!