I have been a fan of David Akers for a long time, dating back to his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, my hometown team. I’ve also been a longtime fan of the 49ers, going back to the Joe Montana, Dwight Clark and Jerry Rice days. Being an Eagles fan, you definitely need a backup team to cheer for.
So it has been with pain and concern that I have watched Akers this season, knowing his talent and wondering what has happened to him to cause him to miss field goals that were de riguer for him.
Confidence is a funny thing, especially when you have so much riding on your skills and zero time to mentally prepare. Just think what Akers must do throughout a game: Be ready to kick a field goal in seconds, with no idea how far or what the conditions will be like; face an opponent that basically wants to stop you at all costs – and if you’re a kicker, you’re not exactly the biggest guy on the team; have the fate of your team, season, career, etc. riding on your leg and your ability to get it through the uprights; and in Akers case, do all this while being booed by people who loved you last year. Not much pressure, is there? Additionally, you’ve got what is probably one of the most serious injuries, other than a broken leg, that a kicker can face in a double hernia to deal with. Is it any wonder Dave’s been having a challenging year?
But professional athletes are not like common folks. Everyone can learn the skills, practice and train in a particular sport or field. What separates the professionals from everyone else is their confidence, their belief that they are the best, fastest, strongest and most accurate in the world. It’s what sustains professional athletes to bounce back from injury, take the criticism of fickle fans, deal with varying weather conditions, get traded from team to team, and so on.
So what is confidence and how can it apply to you to improve your personal and professional life and more importantly, how can you bolster your confidence when it waxes and wanes?
Believe it or not, what David Akers is going through will help him grow as an athlete and as a human being. It is part of his forward motion that in Co-Active Coaching we call Process Coaching. The core skill of process coaching is to help the client expand their power of being in the present moment despite forces that may try to sway them, such as strong emotion, difficult circumstances, confusion and so on.
Dealing with strong emotions may impact our confidence. Throughout life, we are taught to suppress our emotions, especially boys. “Don’t cry,” “Be strong,” “Buck up,” these are all mantras we hear throughout life that teach us that the expression of our emotions is not a good thing. Many times, we are afraid of letting our emotions flow freely, in fear that they may overwhelm us.
Learning to be present and in touch with our emotions allows us to experience what we are truly feeling. The energy of those emotions begins to move naturally and then becomes something we can tap into to create powerful, positive change in our lives.
Being in the present means focusing on NOW…not what happened last week, or last year, or what could happen in the future. Zeroing in on that emotion and being in it, dealing with it, embracing it, is a good first step to bolstering your confidence when those emotions threaten to harm it.