De-stigmatizing self-confidence

There was once a time, even during last season’s NBA playoffs, when I started disliking Dwayne Wade because I thought he was too confident. That may sound blasphemous to say here in Wade County but I have to make such a confession. I will also confess that I was wrong.

Dwayne Wade has been a cornerstone in both Miami Heat championships. He is very low key off the court and probably very humble as well. His on-court persona, however, is visibly confident, if not cocky. It works for him and it certainly works for the Heat. He has been one of the top 5 players in the NBA over the last decade.

Whether it’s on the basketball court, in the surgery room, behind a microphone or anything else contingent on performance, self-confidence is not only helpful, but also essential. Yet as a society, we seem to look down on those who possess an aura of self-confidence. Perhaps we prefer that they hang their heads rather than proudly display their talent. If anything, we should not only celebrate their talents and contributions, but the confidence that precedes it.

I can’t speak for others but I know that If I don’t display confidence, even if it is of the quiet variety, I won’t succeed. Only when I have believed in myself and actually portrayed that sense of assurance with a little bit of swagger, have I actually gone out in the world and done something worth remembering. I’m sure there are many different clinical terms for this such as self-actualization, ‘self-fufilling prophecies” or just “acting the part”. Whichever one makes sense to you, they all kind of suggest the same thing. Just believe in yourself and let that confidence act itself out.

I know what it’s like not to believe in myself, to be afraid to show off what I was good at. Those days sucked. I hid behind a veil of somewhat unfounded self-doubt and fear. I am glad those days are behind me. I did not get to use nearly as many of my talents as I would have liked. Since I got my college degree, I have gone out of my way to make up for the days of not believing in myself.

I could list hundreds of examples for whom self-confidence seems to be an asset. They are probably a little cocky too and you know what, more power to them. They deserve to be. I will simply say that Steven Speilberg, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, and J.K. Rowling didn’t get to where they are by burying their confidence. Neither do the people closer to our lives that we admire the most.

One does not have to be a superstar to be confident. We normal people are probably not meant to do spectacular things. But we are given a chance to make something of ourselves and to show off a little bit in so doing.

The people I look up to most are Bono, Andre Agassi and Woody Allen. They are all amazing at what they do, never seem to stop striving, and do so with a tremendous amount of pride. They may also be outliers but even outliers had to start on a normal playing field. I don’t know what it was like for them in the beginning of their careers but I can only assume it started with a good deal of confidence. Why else would anyone dare to be so great?

I am not sure if you agree with me. But thank God I am at a point in my life where I am confident enough to assume I’m right. That’s good enough for me!

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