“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.”
~ Paul (Bear) Bryant
Paul Bryant, a successful college football coach over many years at the University of Alabama, knew something about what it takes to be a winner. His formula for victory has many familiar elements: dedication, pride, and the courage to persevere and never quit. I read also, that he once said that even after you achieve a particular goal, you don’t quit – you set a new goal and keep working. That last line was important to me because it put the idea of quitting as something a person should never entertain.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of a work ethic. For me, a person with a well-entrenched work ethic is the opposite of a lazy person. Automatically, my mind reverts to one of my university Philosophy courses where I studied Aristotle. He maintained that moral behavior is the mean or middle ground between the extremes of excess and defect. If we apply this idea to our discussion of work ethic and laziness, he is suggesting that the best course to follow is between these two ends.
I’ve known people whose work ethic was excessive – to the point that the hours they dedicated to their work, not only exhausted them, but also denied the investment of their time into other important activities involving family, and recreation. For the last six months, my wife and granddaughter have asked me why I work in my office for ten to twelve hours each day. I don’t have a good answer for them – not one that is in keeping with the rule of the golden mean! On the other hand, the lazy person accomplishes very little – for anyone. I don’t believe that either extreme breeds happiness.
The part of this quote that resonated most with me is this, “If you believe in yourself…” For Bryant, this is the prerequisite in his formula for victory. In other words, if you do not believe in yourself, your abilities, skills, and have confidence you can get the job done, you’ll fail. Self-confidence isn’t just important here, it’s crucial! The rest – the dedication, hard work, and perseverance will not be enough.
For some people, this crucial element of Bryant’s formula is disturbing. What if you lack self-confidence? What if you’re not sure you have what it takes to succeed? I raise this because I am this kind of person. I have always struggled to acknowledge my own value. Many colleagues, close friends and family throughout my life journey have expressed incredulity, and often, frustration when confronted by my self-doubt.
In my head, I know I have talents and skills. I know that I have accomplished some things to be proud of in my lifetime. So what’s the problem? I just don’t know these things in my heart. I don’t know how to fix that. In most instances, I have been successful after someone, who did believe in me, gave me a virtual boot in the rear to get me started. I have always needed strong people in my life – confident, strong people. For me, this is the single, most frightening thing about Paul Bryant’s formula for victory. Once I have made up my mind, I find that I can apply his other elements… it’s that first step…
I admire people like Bear Bryant and I look to them as mentors. I have to confess, that slaying the self-doubt demon within me is one victory I want badly enough to persevere until I win. Curiously, in my sixth decade, I find I am pushing myself to do things I never thought I could do. That encourages me, but I also know that I’ll not make it to the finish line without the support and encouragement of those closest to me. These are the people I will cherish most until the day I die.