Believe to Find Success

April 26, 2012
By A.J. Jeffries BRONZE, Downers Grove, Illinois
A.J. Jeffries BRONZE, Downers Grove, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Vain. Arrogant. Conceited.

All have been used to describe me. On occasion it is a perfectly reasonable description. An excess of self-confidence can lead to those things. But that does not by any means make self-confidence a bad thing. On the contrary, it is the single most important tool any human being can have in the pursuit of success. It is only in excess that it causes problems in relationships. But even then, it is far better to have too much than too little. I would rather be hated for greatness than forgotten for being just another face in the crowd.

Bill Russell once said “good work habits help develop an internal toughness and a self-confident attitude that will sustain you through every adversity and temporary discouragement.” That is the true difference between the bad confidence and the good. Those who work hard day in and day out to earn the right to wear their confidence with pride are those with the potential to become truly great. It is only those for whom confidence is nothing but false bravado that it is a bad thing, because if it is not earned through skill then it is not merited, and arrogance without merit is one of the greatest annoyances to those with genuine talent and work ethic.

Composure under pressure is a tool necessary in any aspect of life. A soccer player stepping up to the penalty spot in the World Cup final (ahem David Trezuget ), a basketball player with a chance to win the game from the free throw line, a business executive closing a multimillion dollar deal, or even an average student preparing to take the ACT test that could define their future all understand the necessity of composure. Each one of those people has to step up to their respective task calmly, and that calm only comes if you have the utmost confidence in your abilities.

Any given job or vocation has high pressure situations. A person who steps up without confidence meets with failure. That is why I fully accept my vanity. If the alternative would be inferiority, I will gladly accept the resentment of some people.

Without the full faith in my abilities I would never have survived tearing both of my anterior cruciate ligaments. There have been better players than me who have their potential careers stopped by just one injury. The only thing that allowed me to believe that despite the pain, muscular deterioration, and misery that I would be able to come back stronger was utter faith that I have in my capacity for greatness. Perhaps it is taken to the point of excess, but I would not trade my confidence for any degree of acceptance. It is part of what defines me, the same as it defines any other human being who has it. They are not hard to find. Just check the Forbes top 500 listings.

There will be people in life who are so overwhelmingly brilliant and talented that they succeed while questioning themselves every step of the way. However, even those magnificently brilliant people are not guaranteed success. Take Chris Langan, a man that anyone who has read Outliers is familiar with. Langan had an IQ that was quite literally off the charts. And yet when his scholarship was taken away by Reed University he did not have the confidence in his own value to walk in and ask that they reinstate it. Here is a man who has more raw intellect in his pinky finger than the average high school teacher could ever dream of. Yet he did not even graduate college because he was not confident enough to go in and talk to the school officials that wronged him.

Whether successful or not, those men and women are incredibly rare in this world. They are not models that can be followed because they are simply blessed with intangibles that cannot be learned. The people that should be looked to as examples of how to find success are those who are not blessed with such incredible abilities, but those who take their limited skills or opportunities and have the self-confidence to still go far in life; they are the ones who set an example to follow.

There will also be people who claim that it is impossible to achieve greatness without being humble. While it is possible to be quietly confident and humble, there are very few men in this world who can handle being told they are great without letting it go to their head. I came to that realization when I went to Florida to play for the U-17 U.S. National Soccer team. The young men there had been told they were the “40 best players in the country”. As a sixteen or seventeen year old boy, being told you were one of the best in your field that your country could find would obviously go to your head. And we were quite possibly the most arrogant group I have ever been a part of off the field. But as long as you can control your ego on the field and still put your heart into every game, then that arrogance off the field is merited and will not impair the pursuit for greatness on the field.

Another occasion in which many men find themselves wishing for a bit more self-confidence is when dealing with women. For some reason despite modern feminism, men are still always obligated to make the first move in any relationship. Walking up to someone you have never met, or someone who you are only vaguely familiar with, is not an easy task. It takes a certain confidence in your attractiveness and personality that appears to have become quite rare. And yet, if you step up with confidence then oftentimes you are met with success.
There is clearly a direct correlation between self-confidence and success. Oftentimes, the certainty that you are capable of achieving greatness despite the disbelief of many people is the most important tool for anyone attempting to find greatness. It may lead to arrogance. But do not disregard it simply because people call you a vain fool. If your abilities truly merit that degree of confidence, then find people who appreciate those skills and do away with the rest.

The author's comments:
I had to write about something I fervently believe in, so self-confidence immediately came to mind. It's helped me in life.

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