As a coach you are always trying to instill confidence in your athletes. I like using the phrase, “I’ll believe in you until you believe in yourself.” This is effective because more times others can see your capabilities clearer than you can. And this past weekend I was reminded of this for myself.
I was having a conversation with a fellow lifter friend that said something like this: “I have to think about my lift as a fight. The bar is fighting to stay on the ground and I’m fighting to put over my head. Sometimes I win and sometimes the bar wins but if I walk in this ring already defeated there’s no way I’m going to be successful.” And he’s right. If you don’t approach the bar with confidence then you’ve already lost. And why do all the work to pull the bar out, put your shoes on(you know that takes forever!), find your wrist wraps, drag all the weights out and chalk up your hands if you walk up to the bar and say, “I hope I make it”. Lack of confidence is a PR killer and I got hit with the reality stick pretty hard this weekend.
If you’ve read any of my previous stuff you know I battle and have battled with confidence and self esteem issues forever. Most all of this stems from not feeling great about how I look and feel in my own skin. I know that where I am today is 1000% better than where I was a few years ago but sometimes I get put in check on how much I still need to grow.
I was lucky enough to get to go to a Weightlifting Mini Camp at CH Fitness and Performance this weekend. It was run by Cara Heads and this amazing and witty red-head, Ursula Papandrea. I’m lucky enough to get to train some with Cara but I had only heard about Ursula from the many wonderful things Cara says about her. To say that I was in awe is an understatment. I had to contain my excitement and pure yearning for knowledge for fear I would look like some sort of crazy person. I took in every opportunity I could to be the athlete and get coached. This continued when I had some one-on-one time with Ursula. We weren’t far into our conversation when I said something about not being a very good athlete. She made a comment and I probably made a face(the one where you scrunch up your nose and shake your head a little) and she immediately said,
“You have a confidence problem.”
BAM! There it was, out on the table. Raw and simple. She wasn’t being mean but just making an observation. Little did she know just how right she was and how that simple little sentence affected me right then and still now.
I became immediately vulnerable hearing those words. I got tears in my eyes because she had hit a nerve. I felt like she had ripped off all of my clothes and left me there emotionally naked. She got down to the core of my weightlifting issues in about 5min. We weren’t discussing knee angles at the set up or foot placement in the catch(although I know so many nerdy things about that now!) we were talking about personalities and about how different types of personalities get drawn into lifting. It takes fire and will from within and nothing puts a fire out faster than self doubt. Yes, there are technical things we all have to work on but if you aren’t emotionally in check then your technique can’t save you. You will fall apart when you need to be dialed in the most.
Confidence and being self assured are two things that make me incredibly uncomfortable. When I look at myself all I see is room for improvement. Which in some cases is good. Forward movement is always better than stagnation. But, I forget to take stock of the accomplishments along the way. It’s ok to say “I do ______ well”. There will always be room to improve but without acknowledging the good things you leave the door open for self doubt and you will lack confidence.
From here on out I will be doing a better job of acknowledging the things I do well. I have lots of goals to accomplish and there will be successes along the way. Taking ownership of the small successes will set me up for bigger ones down the line. I encourage you to do the same. Then walk up to the bar and let it know who’s gonna win the fight!