The Notre Dame Center Who Could

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David Casstevens of the Dallas Morning News tells
a story about Frank Szymanski, a Notre Dame
center in the 1940s, who had been called as a
witness in a civil suit at South Bend.

“Are you on the Notre Dame football team this year?”
the judge asked.

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“What position?”

“Center, Your Honor.”

“How good a center?”

Szymanski squirmed in his seat, but said firmly: “Sir,
I’m the best center Notre Dame has ever had.”

Coach Frank Leahy, who was in the courtroom, was
surprised. Szymanski always had been modest and
unassuming. So when the proceedings were over, he
took Szymanski aside and asked why he had made
such a statement. Szymanski blushed.

“I hated to do it, Coach,” he said. “But, after all, I
was under oath.”

I observe two lessons from this story.

First, confidence spawns great achievement. We are
more likely to strive and succeed if we feel we can
do it.

This confidence does not come automatically—we
must develop it. This is especially true if we hear
continuous messages from others that we will fail.
In the face such negative messages, we must refuse
to allow them to thwart our efforts. Such external
must be quieted and our internal confidence must be
given our ear.

The second lesson I learn from Szymanski is that we
need not trumpet our confidence in our abilities to
make them effective. Frank felt he was the best. But
he displayed modesty. Yet, when pressed to tell the
whole truth, he firmly told it like he saw it.

When we are humble, yet confident we make
believers of those around us. They will turn their
doubt into trust. They will begin to believe it too.
They will stop sending you negative messages, but
will begin to express their confidence in you.

Confidence counts. I challenge you to work on yours.
I’m working on mine.

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Related Quotes

My mother taught me very early to believe I could
achieve any accomplishment I wanted to. The first
was to walk without braces. Wilma Rudolph

Confidence….thrives only on honesty, on honor, on
the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection
and on unselfish performance. Without them, it
cannot live. Franklin D. Roosevelt

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task
which, more than anything else, will affect its
successful outcome. William James

In God’s eyes, nobody is a nobody. We should
never lose sight of what we may become and
who we are. Marvin J. Ashton

Keep away from people who try to belittle your
ambitions. Small people always do that, but the
really great make you feel that you, too, can
become great. Mark Twain

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Sincerely,

David DeFord

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