"A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it."
-- Alexandre Dumas
Belief, in oneself seems simple, right? "Just ... believe!"
Self-confidence, belief, faith, self-esteem, conviction, assurance, self-reliance, swagger. These are all terms in constant circulation to remind us of how we must feel to succeed.
But is belief really that easy? Is it as simple as a few nouns built into a sentence that keep us in a state of knowledge that we can achieve any goal that we set our mind to?
Of course not! Belief in oneself isn't a simple act or mood that comes and goes. It is an uphill challenge each of us fights on a daily basis. It doesn't matter if you are Pope Francis trying to run the Catholic Church or a young child trying to "fit in" with his or her peers. We all fight a daily battle between self-confidence and self-doubt.
But how is confidence created? Is it a switch that turns on and off?
Confidence is a skill just like playing baseball or becoming a better writer, it requires determined daily practice.
Like most people, confidence has never come easy to me. I've had to work to nurture and grow my confidence each and every day. This has been a significant challenge over my life, but has become easier the longer I've done it.
Over the last few years I've taken special interest in those who give off a high level of confidence. After talking with people across the nation, I realize none of them are naturally confident. They just do a better job than most at showing their confidence.
Each time I think about the idea of "exuding confidence" I am taken back to one of the many life lessons coach Bill Kernen taught me at Cal State Bakersfield.
He would explain that you have to believe you are the best player there is. Work hard at hitting off the tee and throwing bullpens, but even harder at visualizing yourself as the best player there is. See yourself in that pressure situation and watch yourself execute perfectly. Your brain will think it is actually happening and will myelinate that pathway. In essence ... Fake it!
At first I thought this was crazy. Realizing he is a brilliant baseball mind, I decided to give it a try. At first I had some mixed results but the more I visualized myself being the best, the better I became.
I quickly realized that I was no longer faking it ... I was doing it! I no longer had to convince myself that I was a good pitcher because I had become the pitcher I visualized.
This isn't just applicable to baseball. I used this in the classroom when studying for a test, talking to women (in person, Facebook doesn't count) or talking to a scout after games. Anything that required a perceived confidence I would visualize myself being the best at it beforehand.
Alexandre Dumas and coach Kernen beautifully articulate how important confidence is. Without the determination and intrinsic motivation to achieve in school, to be a good parent or simply help in your community they will never happen.
I am a firm believer that the only thing holding someone back from success is belief in themselves.
Follow your dreams with whole-hearted belief in yourself and you will achieve things you never thought possible.
McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher who now plays in the Boston Red Sox minor league organization. His column runs Sundays throughout the baseball season. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.