Blogpost, self-reliance

A Bundle of Twigs

Winter has mostly descended on Virginia. So our fireplace has gotten a fair amount of use recently. Although the TV will try to sell us all on the idea that a single log can burn for hours on end with the perfect flame, it’s just not true. This type of false fire advertising leads to people buying fake logs from the store because the shame of not being able to build the perfect fire is too much too bear. Obviously I’m being ridiculous now but there is a disconnect between an effective fire and starting a fire. Big logs are not the start of a quality fire. They come later. The beginnings of any great (non cheating) fire is a bunch of twigs. Once they catch, it is relatively easy to add slightly larger pieces until the log is ablaze. The fact that we rarely have to build a fire anymore creates a disconnect with natural order of the world.

Twigs, sticks and logs were all harmed in the taking of this photo!

In our own lives with American Idol and get rich quick schemes, it is easy to forget that most things that we want to build only require twigs at first. The idea of making a million dollars should be preceded by making a dollar then another. Twigs are everywhere and we overlook them in our lives because we want the blazing fire now. Each of us needs to realize that the big logs or dreams are never going to self-combust. They each need those little twigs or actions to get things started. There is a certain amount of pride that needs to be taken in finding the twigs and small branches to add to the fire. Being smart about not adding the big log too early because the pressure will only snuff out the small flame.

Although it’s possible for a person to become obsessed with their small fire based on twigs, I’ve found that more people are sitting in the dark with their big log and magnifying glass hoping. These pieces could all work at some point but their combination just doesn’t. Knowing where you are in the process and what you need to get the next stage of the fire going is crucial. Your blaze is coming if you build it up right!

Find those twigs!



Building Confidence: Exchange FEAR for MIRE

Recently I was asked by a young player to give some thoughts on building confidence on the field. Although the request was made with a very specific goal in mind, building confidence is possible for anyone. The component pieces are the same regardless of the specific pursuit.

The first step is to focus on skill acquisition. Competence leads to confidence. This should be an obvious step but it is overlooked by many. People generally do not want to take the time to become good at something. They want to believe in themselves before they have any reasons to support that belief. Take the time to develop the necessary skills. Do the work when no one is watching.

As the physical skills are building, it is also important to build a mental framework. The opposite of confidence is fear. Fear as an acronym is False Evidence that Appears Real. The reason why most people are not confident is that they have the pictures of all of the ways that it could go wrong in their heads. Combating these images takes deliberate practice. In order to get to the point where you can admire your own abilities, you must have Mental Images Rehearsed Everyday. It is important to see what you want in your mind’s eye before it happens. Before things happen in the external world, they have to happen in your internal world.

Finally there is a component of faith to any endeavor. A belief that things are going to work out. With this faith there is a certain amount of emotional equilibrium that one must possess. The ability to see setbacks and obstacles as part of the process is crucial. Ultimately humans lead with belief and the willingness to leap out into the void at some point is necessary.

The most confident people did not develop that ability in a day. Nor is it a super power that is kept from us mere mortals. It is simply a process like so many others. Follow the steps to get similar results. Unfortunately it is easier to succumb to fear than to take action. However even the most difficult things can become a habit if they are practiced enough.

So go out there today and face your fears. Build your skills and become confident based on your new abilities. Nothing is so big that it can’t be broken down into bite sized pieces. Be careful because if you picture it, you just might do it!

Go forth with confidence!