As manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda won eight division titles, four National League pennants, and two World Series championships during his 20-year career.
A member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Lasorda is famous for his optimism and enthusiasm in all aspects of life.
A prime example of just how powerful self-confidence can be, Lasorda’s teams often overachieved thanks to his message of relentless optimism.
Colin Gunderson spent twelve years as Tommy Lasorda’s assistant and he saw first-hand the positive message Lasorda preached every day…
“You gotta believe!”
“I said it because I believed it, and I wanted my players to believe it,” Lasorda said. “You gotta believe!”
He said it in the clubhouse meetings during spring training, when he would take his players to lunch, and in letters he wrote them during the off-season. He said it to himself at home getting ready for the day, in hotel rooms across the country before speeches; he said it to anyone in need of motivation.
That is Tommy Lasorda’s mantra, his belief that winning isn’t about being the best, but believing you are the best.
“It’s not always the strongest man who wins the fight, or the fastest man that wins the race; it’s the one who wants it more than the other guy,” Lasorda said.
Tommy would preach about the importance of desire, and that desire is only fulfilled when you believe in yourself.
“Self-confidence is the first step toward success,” Lasorda said. “If you believe it, you can achieve it.”
“How bad do you want it?” he would thunder. “How much of a price are you willing to pay?”
Success to him, his mission, was to win the World Series every year, and he never let his players forget that. It all started with them believing they would win the World Series.
“If you believe you are a championship team, you will practice like a championship team. If you practice like a championship team, you will play like a championship team. And if you play like a championship team, that’s exactly where you will finish.”
Maybe that’s why Tommy would say it—and say it again and again. He never let his players compromise, never let his expectations be compromised, would never let himself or his belief be compromised.
Baseball is a mental game as much as it is a physical one. Faced with constant failure, players are challenged to stay positive, make adjustments they never had to before, persevere, keep believing in themselves.
“Success comes in can, not can’t,” said Tommy. “I wanted to hear my players say, ‘I will, I can, I must, I shall, I believe.’”
He wanted his players to know that self-confidence was the first step to success, and that they had to possess it at all times.
— Colin Gunderson, from his book Tommy Lasorda: My Way
Confidence is the spark that determines how hard you will work and how far you can climb. If you don’t believe you can do something, why would you work hard at it? If you don’t truly believe your dreams can come true, why chase them in the first place?
Great leaders know how important confidence is in determining results. It sets the tone for everything that follows.
Lasorda knew the power of self-confidence and he promoted it like few other coaches in his time. He knew one of life’s most important lessons: if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
You gotta believe!