by Jason Kuhn
In 2015, an MLB friend went from “pressing” to crushing the baseball again. The NY Times described him as now being “loose, relaxed, and in the moment.” His understanding of hitting didn’t change, just his confidence. It is as vital as mechanics and pitch selection. Many athletes know when they are confident, and when they are not confident. But they don’t know why. Webster’s dictionary describes confidence as a “state of being certain.”
The more certainty we have, the more confident we are. Certainty comes from trust, therefore trust and confidence have a direct relationship. This relationship makes preparation vital. When we are selfless, have an attention to detail, and are relentless in our preparation, we then trust our teammates, sound mechanics, and work ethic. We will be certain that we have the highest chance of success possible, producing confidence in the present moment.
Just before hell week began, one of our instructors said, “Today there is a man training to kill you. One day you will meet that man.” On that day, we would have confidence by being certain that we were better prepared than our enemy. Certainty in our preparation made us very dangerous, but not invincible. The outcome was still uncertain. We can have certainty in our preparation, process, and habits, but cannot be certain about what will happen. We can be the better man and still lose. We can do everything right and go 0-4 at the plate. We will not always receive the outcome we desire. This unknown can create anxiety. Without certainty in the outcome, what can we trust? What can we be certain about? We can be certain every outcome, desired or undesired, has intrinsic purpose. We must have certainty in our preparation and purpose. All outcomes have purpose.
People often ask me how I managed the fear of death. The best way not to fear something is to understand its purpose. I did not desire death, but had conviction in its purpose. I believed that death would have served a greater intrinsic purpose for the world. God would take care of my family and use my death to fulfill his purpose.
After three successful college baseball seasons, I had no idea why I was dealing with performance anxiety as a senior. I saw no purpose. I became frustrated, embarrassed, and angry. Through desperate prayer I felt “Just wait—something better is coming.” I had no clue what it was, but I now had an undeniable peace. I still couldn’t throw well, but I had conviction there was purpose to it. The experience gave me increased self-awareness and motivation to graduate BUD/S. I received a life more fulfilling and successful than my own plans could have produced. Now I get to help others do the same.
Sometimes our desire to succeed creates a need to force our desired outcome. A need to force something outside of our control is where pressure is born. We can’t force outcomes. We influence outcomes through fundamental processes. It does not mean we surrender the outcome or emotionally detach from it. You can’t surrender something you don’t have possession of, and there is a lot of emotion attached to the outcome of a gunfight. I’ll fight for the outcome everyday, and use desire as fuel for my drive to perfect the fundamental processes of combat.
Our desire to succeed is our fuel. We just have to put it in the right tank. I demand perfection of everything within my control, because it’s not just me out there. It’s my brothers too. I fight for the desires God has placed in my heart providing fuel for the ship to move forward with certainty in God’s ability to steer the course.