Self-confidence is a mysterious beast.  It lives in all of us and seems to come out of hibernation when it wants to (or when it’s sparked by something).

For some, it’s magically there 24-7, while others may need someone (or something) to ignite it.

Then there’s personal motivation, the BFF of self-confidence.  One builds off the other.  The more confident you are, the more motivated you are.  The more motivated you are, the more confident you become.

For me, it is many months since I had neurosurgery.

Yes, as in brain surgery.

Few people say that and live to tell about it.  Okay, okay… it’s obviously a lot more than a “few people”.  I am by no means collecting medical metrics in my spare time, so I honestly wouldn’t know.

Few people also get motivated and more self-confident by such a life-changing event.  Yet, I did.

For those of you just hearing the news, let’s just say that 2017 was a bit of an adventurous year for me.

I won’t get into all the gory details, because that’s not really the point, but it all started with a nasty cold during the 2016 holiday season.  That eventually was diagnosed as a respiratory infection, followed by a deeply impacted sinus infection.  I also experienced a fun episode of pneumonia, where I was hospitalized for four days.

Translation: Doctors had no idea what was wrong with me.

Months into this bill-inducing mess, I also started feeling numbness in all of my extremities.  I had a difficult time swallowing certain foods, too.

Most mornings, I couldn’t bend over to tie my shoes without experiencing severe head pain.  I sucked it up and kept going to work because I was seeing a bunch of doctors and didn’t have the vacation time to just keep taking off because I felt like crap.

My ENT doc recommended I see a neurologist, simply stating that the collective symptoms I had would not tie entirely to my sinuses.  I took his advice and made an appointment, which would be accompanied by MRI’s of my brain and neck, along with a number of other tests I’d rather not take again.

The following day, the neurologist called, which sent a nervous jolt throughout my body, simply because I thought this wasn’t going to be anything serious.  As it turns out, I was diagnosed with a severe Chiari Malformation.

Google it if you’re curious, because I won’t sit here and try to describe it.  That verbal vomit would simply make doctors across the country collectively cringe in unison.  Let’s just say that my spinal fluid wasn’t flowing in the places that it should and it’s very possible that I was born with this “brain sinking” malformation that finally decided to escalate into a Nick-Foles-like force that came out of nowhere and was suddenly wreaking havoc on my body’s pathetic defense.

Additionally, I had spinal cord swelling.  Surgery was recommended, which I eventually had last fall.  Long story short, it went well and I feel pretty good these days.

Here‘s how I looked shortly after the surgery (when I was still hospitalized):

neurosurgery-self-confidence

Neurosurgery in 2017 boosted my self-confidence and motivation – no, really.

I’m grateful for all the care I received and forever grateful for all the love and support I received from family and friends.  When you go through something like this, you truly realize who your friends are.  People say that all the time, but it really is true.

In times of crisis or fear, we tend to also figure things out about ourselves.  It’s unfortunate that it comes to that, but that’s just one of the ways that life throws knee-buckling-Barry-Zito-like curveballs at you.

If there’s a moral to this story, it’s simply this: Don’t let a dramatic change push you to the point of evaluating yourself.  Instead, continuously evolve and surround yourself with people (and things) that you love and care about.

Treat life as if it were one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.  Key in on everything around you and make the best (and most interesting) decision once you hit that fork in the road.

You only get to live this story once.

Whatever you have to do to get there… GET THERE.  Find things that motivate you, people that support you and feel-good stories that you can relate to.

Mold, shape and build a version of you that makes you happy.

Your self-confidence will grow like a weed because of it.

MOLD Your Motivated Mind

Motivation can come from a slew of places.  It all depends on what motivates you, but here are a few random options that you could consider:

Lewis Howes: He’s a social media mastermind, best-selling author and former pro athlete that delivers motivation more than Pizza Hut delivers pizza.  His podcast features a variety of guests with various approaches that could speak to you.  I guarantee there’s at least one thing (of his) that’ll motivate you and jumpstart your mind.

Kristi Dosh: She has a great personality and her success story is fantastic, but what spoke to me most was her guest post on Entrepreneur, which discusses the development of your personal brand (and a whole lot more).

Motivational Quotes: I rely and lean on quotes of all kinds to help push me in the direction that I want to go.  There’s just something about them that help me stay on point.  Quotes can come from all angles, from historical figures in U.S. history to modern day entertainment, such as:

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” – Abraham Lincoln

“There are wolves and sheep in this world, kid.  Figure out which one you’re going to be.” – Jimmy McGill, Better Call Saul

Motivate your mind and let the self-confidence grow!

SHAPE Your Support System

I’m not perfect.  Nobody is.  I’m still trying to figure this out, as you may be, too.  With that said, almost all of us are fortunate enough to have a support system.  Find the people that support you and lean on them, bounce ideas off of them, listen to them and learn from them.

You can learn from anyone and everyone.

It could be a family member, a close friend, a co-worker, a boss, a pal on Twitter or a complete stranger.

Heck, you may not know me personally, but if I influence you (or any one person) positively with this post, then I’ve accomplished something.

BUILD Your Feel-Good Framework

Like motivational quotes and inspiring figures, feel-good stories can come from anywhere, too.  Maybe you have a family member that beat cancer and is running in a triathlon.  Perhaps you can look to a homeless kid that lands himself in Hollywood singing on American Idol.  There are also countless stories from Shark Tank that morph one random idea into a multi-million dollar work of art.  Perhaps there’s an Olympian, a historian or not any one person at all.  Maybe you just want to be the best at something. 

Find the feel-good story that fits you and adopt it.  Lean on it.  Look back to it.  Use it as a springboard.  I took about a dozen stories over the last six months – including my own – and have pushed myself to get back into the writing game.

Build your very own feel-good framework, as it will lead to a spike in motivation and self-confidence.

In Lengthy Conclusion

Find, shape, build and mold yourself.  Don’t wait for a dramatic life event to force you into it.

Trust me when I say this approach can help build up your self-confidence.

How do I know that, you might ask?

Well, I’m someone that has constantly struggled with self-confidence.  I’m a person that has never received excessive encouragement or direction.  I’m also a guy that is still seeking a path that I will fully be satisfied with.

Let me explain from the standpoint of my sportswriting career.

I started writing about sports in 2005 after entering the Next Great Sportswriter contest on FoxSports.com.

I have no degree in journalism.  In fact, my degree is in Geography, specializing in Geographic Information Systems.  At the time, I had a full-time job for a software company in the Financial Services industry.

While most writers focused on writing standard pieces about one team or one sport, I pushed to take on a creative and unique angle, in order to stand out.  I didn’t win the contest, but I did eventually land a contract as a freelancer with Fox Sports.  This led to more opportunities, from guest spots on radio shows to covering College Football live, running a Big Ten Football site for Bleacher Report and the Chicago Tribune (via Chicago Now), as well as being a member of both the FWAA and USBWA.  I managed this on nights and weekends, all the while holding down a full-time job.  Every chance was a learning experience and something I really enjoyed.  I took none of it for granted.

My growth, motivation and self-confidence was at an all-time high.

Then, in 2009, I started The Wife Hates Sports, based off a creative idea that I felt would be unique and different.  Well, it was unique for a while, until I began focusing more and more on social media, SEO, hot topics and trends.  I dropped countless ideas because I felt the story had gone stale.  I tossed aside the creative spin to report on more mainstream stories.

So, again, why does all this matter?

For one, all this time, I was learning to mold, shape and build myself up, but I had no idea. 

I researched and learned more about journalism while covering sports live. Some of it was self-taught, but peers and mentors were instrumental in my growth.  I also picked up knowledge building a website and maintaining it, while finding an audience and learning how to maintain it through SEO.  I was evolving, adding new knowledge to my existing base.  

But once the opportunities ended and my health challenges came about, I had crashed and burned into a pile of mediocrity that lacked even the slightest sliver of confidence.

Just a handful of setbacks and it all came crumbling down, capped by a 2017 year where I survived multiple hospital stays and neurosurgery.

How could I let that happen?

Well, it happened and I can’t look back, but only can look forward.  I had a lot of time to think about this while recovering in that hospital bed.

My confidence is back and this is my rebirth – molding, building and shaping my collective works (and TWHS will be a part of that, too).

I’m rebuilding my brand (think of Kristi Dosh’s story above) and shifting back to my roots, while adding in a number of shiny new things I’ve learned over the years.

If I can do it, then you can do it, too.

It’s never too late.

Choose your Adventure – then mold, shape and build a self-confident new you!

xxx

Share your story with me (and with the TWHS audience)!  I’d love to hear about your successes, motivations, or if this piece resonated with you in any way.  Good luck and as always, thank you for visiting The Wife Hates Sports!