Confidence is Contagious

Stepan Curry 2016 MVPSteph Curry won another league MVP award this week. The vote was unanimous for the first time in NBA history, though he hadn’t played a game in weeks. After spraining his knee in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Steph had to cheer his teammates on from the sidelines.

Monday night, after missing 5 playoff games and nearly 3 weeks of playing time, Steph comes off the bench in the second quarter. His team is getting killed 16-2, but the moment he trots onto the court, they perk up. Bit by bit the Warriors crawl back into the game. They rally, even though Steph is having a terrible shooting night.

Curry can’t get his 3-point shot to drop. He is 0 for 9. The man who set the NBA record with 402 3-pointers in a season, can’t make a single one now. He misses nine, 3-point shots in a row.

Nine. Missed shots. In a row.

When most of us go 0 for 9 in anything, we run home, crawl in bed, and pull the covers over our heads. Most of us would think it wasn’t our night and we should stop shooting.

But not Steph. He just keeps grinding.

Finally, with 4:36 left in the 4th quarter, he hits his first 3-pointer. The game is tied at the end of regulation,  so Curry does another thing no one in NBA history has ever done. He scores 17 points in overtime and the Warriors beat the Blazers going away.

First he goes 0 for 9, then he sets another all-time record. Steph ends up with 40 points and a huge win for his team on the road against a fired-up and hungry Blazers team.

In the post-game press conference he is asked why his teammates played so much better with him on the court. He sums it up like this:

“Confidence is contagious.”

You could see it happening, too. His presence lifted up the entire team, even though his personal performance stunk. Steph kept going and his faith in himself spread like the Zika virus throughout his entire team. And finally, his shots began to drop.

If only the rest of us could maintain our confidence when we go 0 for 9. Think of what we could accomplish. Most of us are on teams, in our jobs, in our families, in our communities. But what we usually spread amongst our teammates isn’t confidence.

We gather in lunchrooms and parking lots and spread a different infection. Bad news. Rumors. Gossip. Whining.  All the things that are wrong and all the ways we’re coming up short.

Yet we all have reason to be confident. In our own, not rich, not famous, not ready for prime-time way, we are all MVPs. We just don’t maintain our self-confidence long enough for our shooting game to catch up with us. We look for evidence to justify quitting. We focus on past failures instead of past success.  We stop shooting even though we know we can’t score if we stop attempting shots.

So the next time we’re going 0 for 9, how bout we follow Steph’s example? We keep grinding. We keep our faith in ourselves, and allow our confidence to spread to our teammates…

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