I am reading a book right now by David J. Lieberman called You Can Read Anyone. Lieberman is an internationally recognized leader in the fields of human behavior and interpersonal relationships. (At least that’s what it says in his bio on the back of the book.).
While I initially purchased this book to improve upon my already incredible sales skills, I have found a lot of useful information that applies to Little League. The most prominent point in the book involves ego vs. self confidence, and it is very enlightening.
According to Leiberman, the common definition of ego differs from the psychiatric one. So, I went to dictionary.com and looked it up. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, here is the definition:
the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that serves as the organized conscious mediator between theperson and reality especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality
Basically, in layman’s terms, Leiberman defines ego as a defensive mechanism. One that cannot allow a person to be responsible for anything that is wrong in their life. The bigger the ego, the less personal responsibility one is willing to take, but inversely, the bigger the self-esteem, the more likely we are to admit mistakes, forgive others, and rely not on anything anybody else says, only on what we know is truly right.
The reason he goes on about this at great length in the book is because you must first establish whether a person is self confident, or egotistical (in the psychological sense) before you can begin to read them. This is so true of little ones.
How many times have you heard a kid come to the dugout after striking out blaming the umpire’s strike zone? How many times does a kid boot a grounder and say “it hit a rock” or something of the like. This is the ego getting in the way, or from a coaches perspective, this is a kid lacking in self confidence.
What is the inverse of this? The kid strikes out and says, “man that was a good change up, I won’t swing at it next time though”. Or, “geez, I should have had that ball, sorry guys, I will get it next time”. That is a player with self confidence who is destined to succeed! The appropriate response from a teammate? A pat on the back and “That’s alright, you will get the next one”.
So where do they derive their lack of self confidence? A lot of it is inexperience. I have spoken often here of the “light bulb” syndrome, where suddenly you see a light bulb in a player’s mind turn on and they “get it”. They just start doing things right, and confidently. But that is down the road.
I believe that kids lacking self confidence have not been allowed to fail. They are sheltered and have no real experience as far as success and failure go. The ONLY path to success is through failure. Any good businessman knows this, and every coach on the planet preaches it daily. If parents shelter their kids from failure, or make excuses for their shortcomings, they are not allowing their self confidence to grow, and their ego must take over. Because our ego will not allow us to be failures, so we must blame the world for everything that is wrong with our life.
How do we overcome this? Youth sport is a fantastic way to build self confidence. Even a kid that strikes out every time occasionally walks, that is a confidence building opportunity! When they actually get a hit, holy cow! Now we have a beaming smile of confidence. Ever notice how hitting is contagious? This is why, confident batters are successful, those that allow their ego to cast blame, usually fail.
One of my favorite sayings is “in baseball you get paid millions of dollars for failing 7 out of 10 times, don’t be afraid to fail, without failure, there is no success”. It is so true. I read an article about this at littleleague.org the other day and they were asking if parents were confident enough to allow their little johnie or janie to fail and still stay out of it?
Are you? Can you? How about yourself? Do you blame the world for everything that is wrong in your life or do you accept responsibility and apologize to those you have wronged? A self confident person apologizes, an egotist continues blaming the world. Which will you be?
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