10K80 by Malcolm Lemmons December 2, 2019
This comes as a surprise to a lot of people when I say this, but throughout high school and most of my college days, while I was playing basketball I really didn’t have a lot of confidence in my game.
I didn’t have faith in my ability as an athlete.
Instead, I constantly fed into the negative thoughts that I would tell myself and when other people told me I wasn’t able or good enough to do certain things in basketball, sometimes I believed them.
I would take every word they said about me and believe it was fact. Without any objection – I’d just accept it.
Deep down, I always knew that I was worthy of success somehow, but my confidence really lacked when it came to certain things I did, no matter how hard I thought I worked to get better at them.
For example, I would practice shooting three-pointers in high school almost every single day but when it came down to actually shooting them in the game, I never even tried to shoot them because I not only told myself that I wasn’t good enough to shoot them, but I also had coaches who forced me to second guess myself during games.
And even though I wasn’t a bad shooter by any stretch of the imagination, I just hadn’t practiced them enough to have an unwavering belief in my ability to make them regardless of what anyone else had to say about it.
I hadn’t done it enough to truly believe that I was good enough to shoot them in the game; therefore, I wasn’t able to reach my fullest potential as a player in high school.
The honest truth is that I didn’t get full confidence in my game until my senior year in college and by that time it was almost too late.
It was almost too late for me to accomplish my dream in basketball and I felt I had wasted many years as an athlete, but it wasn’t too late for other things that I wanted to do in my life.
I became a professional athlete purely because I started to believe that I could play at any level and with anyone in the world.
Once I knew this and I knew how to gain more confidence in basketball, I was able to gain more confidence in anything else that I wanted to do going forward.
When I graduated and went on to play professionally overseas, I realized that confidence is actually relatively easy to obtain once you understand where it stems from. Confidence is all about three things to me and three things only.
In my mind, I broke it down into:
Setting clear, measurable objectives or goals.
Hard work and repetition.
Consistent and positive affirmations.
When I started to gain more confidence in my ability to shoot three’s my senior year of college, I noticed it was because I put the work in every day to become a better shooter and consistently reassured myself that I was good enough to make them in the game.
I knew it was my last year in college and the last chance I had to make a push to play professional ball. I had to ball out that season or playing pro was going to be a long shot.
While I was in college, I played the guard position and was expected to be a big scorer on the team that year. This means the coach expected me to shoot three’s. A lot of them. My only option was to gain the confidence to not only shoot them but also to make them in the game. So I followed the three rules. 1.) Set a goal every day. 2.) Work extremely hard. 3.) Be consistently positive.
So before class, I’d wake up at 7:30 am with a goal of getting to the gym by 8:00 am to make 200 threes. Make, not take.
Even though I’d be late for class some days, I did this almost every day in the preseason, and often times during the season.
And oh yeah… While I was shooting, I would literally tell myself out loud that I was a good shooter. I mean with every shot I took, whether I made it or missed it, I reiterated, “Next one is going in,” or “They can’t guard me, keep shooting,” or “You got this, keep knocking them down.”
It was a positive reassurance shot after shot. There was no hanging my head on misses. No defeated looks. Just hard work and maintaining that optimistic point of view.
On top of all this, it really helped that my college coach had complete trust in me as a player, which also allowed me to perform in ways that I never had before.
When the season rolled around I had drastically improved as a shooter. In our second game against UCLA, I finished with 20 points and hit 5 threes.
I had never hit that many three’s in a game throughout my entire high school and college career up until that point. That was all pure confidence.
Without self-belief and confidence, nothing is possible.
You can have all of the talents in the world. You can have all of the knowledge in the world. You can be the absolute best at what you do.
But if you don’t know how to display, perform or communicate any of this effectively and confidently, you might as well not have any of it.
People can sense when you don’t have confidence in something. They can tell when you’re uneasy or unprepared. They can see when you aren’t ready to step up to the moment. And what that does — depending on what the situation is — is it detracts people from you. It prevents them from giving you other opportunities or chances. It changes their perception of you.
Confidence is so important and knowing what I know now, I would have doubled down on implementing this formula in my life.
But it’s not too late for you to start building yours. Even if you think you already have enough confidence – you can always be more confident. Plus, it’s like a muscle, you have to keep building it in different areas of your life for it to stay strong.
This means constantly setting goals and measuring the results, which builds confidence when you reach them.
This means consistently working hard and focusing on repetition which builds confidence because you’re doing the same thing over and over.
This means telling yourself (out loud) that you’re worthy and great and capable which instills a high level of optimism and positive reinforcement.
And it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. This can apply to you practicing sales calls, working on your public speaking, or gaining any kind of new skill. You see what most people don’t realize is that confident people aren’t just born that way.
Confidence is developed and practiced.
Confidence is built and designed.
Confident people are made through doing these things, consciously or subconsciously. And it doesn’t matter what you’re trying to achieve, you absolutely have to have the confidence if you want any chance to actually achieve it.