Many of us talk about having confidence. Some of us have confidence in ourselves, confidence in our abilities, confidence in our team, confidence that all will be good in the world.
There are many things that can give you confidence, like preparing for a task, studying for a test, or even small efforts like arriving to a task on time. Have you ever wondered about having too little or too much confidence?
Confidence is defined as a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. Sometimes, we have lots of confidence, and other times confidence is hard to come by. Some people rarely feel confident, while others feel confident in most things they do.
Preparation can change your level of confidence. Studying hard can make you confident for the big test while partying the night before the test might make you feel less than confident.
Mark Twain captured the essence and importance of confidence when he said, “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” Having confidence in yourself and in your decisions is critical to feeling good about yourself and your future. Not having confidence can affect your decisions and your whole outlook.
But can we have too much confidence? Being over-confident often looks and feels like arrogance. Overconfidence can be just as bad as no confidence.
Perhaps the best example of over-confidence is captured by the poem Casey at the Bat written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer. It depicts a baseball team, the Mudville nine (implied to be the home team). Mudville is losing by two runs in its last inning. Both the team and its 5,000 fans believe they can win if Casey, Mudville’s star player, gets to bat. However, Casey is scheduled to be the fifth batter of the inning, and the first two batters (Cooney and Barrows) fail to get on base. The next two batters (Flynn and Jimmy Blake) are perceived to be weak hitters with little chance of reaching base to allow Casey a chance to bat.
Surprisingly, Flynn hits a single, and Blake follows with a double that allows Flynn to reach third base. Both runners are now in scoring position and Casey represents the potential winning run. Casey is so sure of his abilities that he does not swing at the first two pitches, both called strikes. On the last pitch, the overconfident Casey strikes out swinging, ending the game and sending the crowd home unhappy.
The poem concludes with the famous verse:
“And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.”
Sometimes, being too confident can hurt the team and the cause. Be prepared, and just the right amount of confidence will often follow!
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Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.