Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Building Confidence

(originally written for my column in the Charter Oak-Ute NEWSpaper in 2005)

“Confidence is the inner knowledge that when you are yourself and others are free to be themselves, everything works out for the best.” ~Brian D. Brio, Beyond Success; 15 secrets to Effective Leadership and Life Based on Legendary Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.
One of the biggest struggles in coaching cheerleading is helping build confidence. It’s one thing to yell and kick along with five other people during practice, but doing it in front of several hundred people on a Friday night is quite another. Doing it in front of a couple hundred of your peers and classmates at a pep rally is even more nerve-wracking.

People have asked me how I can speak in public. Simple; I know that I’m going to make mistakes that people may laugh out eventually in life, so I may as well be prepared to laugh at myself. If I can do that, that I don’t have to be afraid of making a fool of myself. Now I’m not charming or funny enough to be very good at deliberately making people laugh, but I can manage to get in front of a big group of people and talk to them about just about whatever, without panicking.

Retired UCLA Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is one tool that I’ve tried to use to help kids learn about teamwork and important character traits like work-ethic and confidence. Another one is Norman Vincent Peale’s classic The Power of Positive Thinking. A few years ago an author named Mary Lou Carney wrote an adaptation of Peale’s book for Teens. In The Power of Positive Thinking for Teens, she lays out ten simple steps for building your confidence:

1. See success- it’s an age-old coaching technique, you imagine, “visualize,” you picture yourself doing well. Starting with the end in mind, that’s all it is.

2. Nix negativity- sometimes this is the most difficult step. It means not letting yourself talk yourself out of being able to do whatever it is that you have to do. Force yourself to not be doubtful.

3. Don’t build obstacles- you’ve heard the old saying, “you’re your own worst enemy?” It can be true, so be on your guard against self-sabotage. Don’t look for excuses to fail, don’t make things harder than they have to be.

4. Be yourself- That’s all you can be, don’t try to pretend to be something else, lay it all out there and if they like you, great, if they don’t, oh well, their loss, don’t take it too personally. This is what my opening quote is about. Just know that when you are yourself and allow be themselves, everything will work out for the best.

5. Know your strengths- Many coaches have you list your assents and then focus on what your good at, not what you’re not good at. A lot of times that will compensate for your weaknesses. It’s also helpful just to list and review your strengths in order to remind yourself that you’re at least good for SOMETHING.

6. Know yourself- this is not the same as #5. This one could be written as, “know your limits.” If you know what your values are and, yes, what your weaknesses are, you can look for ways to maintain a balance, delegate out responsibilities, or ask for support.

7. Use the antidote (Philippians 4:13)- Memorize and recite this verse at least ten times a day. “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

8. Aim high- If you shoot for nothing, you’ll hit it every time. If you shoot for the moon- even if you miss, you’ll reach the stars.

9. Put yourself in God’s hands- We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future. Sometimes all you can do is to do your best and let God do the rest, also known as “let go and let God.”

10. Be unbeatable

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