I’m certain that many of our American readers and members of The Mental Health Gym are caught up in “March Madness” – the end of the collegiate basketball season that winds up with the NCAA tournament that is currently taking place.
Aside from being an enjoyable series of sporting events that seems to always feature a number of close games, the first weekend of this year’s tournament has provided a real-life lesson in positive psychology. It seems like there have been almost as many upsets as there have been games that have played out according to expectations.
I suspect that some of you may believe that I use sports analogies ad nauseam, but once in a while I really feel that events justify my doing so. This is one of those times. Some of the teams that have won games so far – such as Harvard, LaSalle, and Florida Gulf Coast – could have entered the competition saying that they don’t have a chance at winning. All they had to do was read the newspapers and listen to the prognosticators to realize that they had no hope. Instead they went out and won games that they were expected to lose.
These accomplishments did not happen by accident. That can serve as a lesson for us: those of us who have been inclined to not apply for a job we wanted but were “certain” we wouldn’t get; those of us who hesitated to speak up at a meeting or ask someone for a favor because we were “certain” that we would be rejected; and those of us who have hesitated to learn a new skill for fear of being too old or too disorganized or too klutzy.
Believing in yourself and the possibility of succeeding is a prerequisite to trying. That does not guarantee success, but we know that not trying guarantees non-success. That means that there is no downside to trying, even if we fall short. That makes us no worse off than if we didn’t try at all.
Not every underdog won games in the basketball tournament, and some won’t win more than once. But it’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’ve tried your best and succeeded. It’s not such a great feeling to wonder what might have been – if only you had tried.
Believing in yourself is not only more fun than it is to lack self-confidence, but also wonderful things sometimes happen when you believe in yourself. Take it upon yourself to look for opportunities to make wonderful things happen.