One of the greatest gifts

People have been talking about Tebow for a while now, but it was Frank Bruni’s column two Sunday’s back that got me interested. He—and the game—didn’t disappoint. The Pats are an excellent, seasoned team, and the final outcome was no surprise. For the first quarter, though, the Broncos emanated a confidence that had them powering through all obstacles, time and again. Tebow made some fantastic plays (and made Brady look almost effete) but it was the entire Broncos team working as a cohesive unit that was so impressive to watch.

Self-confidence can carry you far. On Friday morning I went to a talk at my old high school: David Karp, former Calhoun student (his mother is a teacher there), spoke with the Head of School, Steve Nelson, and answered students’ questions. David (now 25) launched Tumblr, the hugely popular blogging platform, in 2007. Throughout all of his answers, David was charming, disarming, articulate, and very smart. Clearly he had the intelligence and vision to take an idea and transform it into a company. But he also had the support of his family, friends who served as mentors, and the self-confidence to try.

Calhoun as a school excels at building confidence in its students—this was true when I was a student, and from all evidence, is true to this day.  The teachers nurtured creativity, and encouraged students to try new things. (My senior year I co-taught a history class to ninth and tenth graders; a big step for a painfully shy kid. I, too, had the benefit of supportive and enthusiastic parents.)

Promoting self-confidence in young people might be among the most important and valuable gifts a parent or teacher can give. Once successfully rooted, self-confidence can weather many storms. Of course, hard work, perseverance, intelligence and luck are also critical…without these, self-confidence means nothing; it is the combination that works. As Frank Bruni said, in talking about “a gift for winning”: “This gift usually involves hope, confidence and a special composure, all of which keep a person in the game long enough, with enough energy and stability, so that a fickle entity known as luck might break his or her way.” People thus blessed can achieve amazing things.

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