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Leadership Lessons—Confidence

I’m not sure if I made up the phrase “shooting yourself hot” but it is something that I believed in as a kid trying to play basketball. Little did I know that it would be a cornerstone for business.

Did you catch Game 5 of the Golden State Warrior vs. Portland Trailblazer playoff? Steph Curry, who is the first ever, to win MVP honors by a unanimous vote, had gotten hurt and hadn’t played in three weeks. Earlier in the day Coach Steve Kerr said that Steph would be available to play if necessary.

Early in the game Curry still sat on the bench. The team was down 16 – 2 when he came in. His replacement had just been ejected from the game. To say that Curry was not shooting well when he came in is an understatement! He started off 0 for 9 in three point attempts. Absolutely horrid for the best three-point shooter in the history of the NBA.

With 4:35 left in the game he finally made a 3-point shot. Steph, however with the score tied, missed a shot at the buzzer putting the game in overtime. That’s when the confidence factor kicked in. In the next five minutes he scored 17 points—an all-time record for overtime performance.

That’s confidence. It is also what I would call “shooting yourself hot.”

Another basketball term I used for business is “hanging the nets.” I learned about this in a 1987 article in Sports Illustrated about then Indiana basketball star, Steve Alford. He would never end a practice without hanging the net. This is a shot from the corner of the court that is a swish with bottom part of the net lapping over the far side of the rim. The net just hangs there.

Alford never ended a practice without hanging the net. I took that lesson to heart when I was in sales and coaching salespeople. I learned to never end a day without making an appointment or closing a sale. Sometimes it seemed like I made 100 calls trying to set an appointment without success. I forced myself to keep on calling until I set one. Usually, that motivated me to make another call to see if I could set two in a row. Then three. Again, I found that I could “shoot myself hot” and make several appointments. I never finished the day, though, without a successful call.

Leaders develop the confidence necessary to “hang the net” or “shoot themselves hot” with whatever project they are working. Maybe it is finding another technician. Maybe it is dealing with a difficult situation. Perhaps it is simply motivating one of your employees. Not leaving your office until you finish the day on a positive note should be imperative.

In business I learned that there are no bad days. There are bad events in a day—but that never makes the entire day bad. Your attitude controls the outcome of your day. Try it this week. Make sure that you finish every day with a successful event. It is just what Leaders do to not only build their confidence—but to maintain the confidence leaders need to have every day!

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