It was his first time on the mound. My 10-year-old son was trying out for a local baseball team, and while he never had any formal training, he was about to pitch his first ever pitch. For the first time in almost 5 years of playing baseball, he found something he loved to do, pitch.
My heart was racing as he took the mound for the first time. The older kids standing around him on the field were questioning why this new kid was about to pitch. “Why is he pitching?” one yelled out to the coach. Another kid belted out “you said only kids who pitched last year could pitch tonight.” By now my heart was in my throat, can he handle this pressure?
His first pitch went right down the middle, “STRIKE!” yelled the umpire.
I had never seen that look in my son’s eyes as pitch after pitch he owned every batter he faced. It only took a handful of pitches before the kids on the field were cheering my son on. Their tune changed as he was doing this pitching thing very well. For the first time in 10 years, I saw that my son was doing what he loved.
On the way home after the try-out, we asked him how he felt pitching for the first time, in his monotone “trying not to seem too excited” he replied “good.” We questioned him if he heard the other kids trying to get him off of the mound and he replied “yes.” I followed that up with asking him how he felt, he quickly replied: “I just wanted to shut them up by pitching.”
So many times in our lives we respond to our critics with hurtful and dismissive words. Waging an endless battle of “I am going to do this” or “I will do that” when faced with adversarial threats. When our egos are bruised, we lash out, hoping to puff ourselves up a little to fend off some of the attacks. But our words and promises are just hollow defences when our egos are at stake. We respond with words because we are not confident enough in our ability.
How do you build confidence in your abilities? Only one way… by doing.
You cannot win over your critics by talking, you can only win them over by doing. And sometimes, even then you won’t win them over. More often than not, critics are just fluffing their own egos to protect their lack of confidence in their abilities, opting to preserve their broken confidence by going on the offensive.
So shut up when your ego is bruised and shut them up by doing instead of saying you will do. Actions ALWAYS speak louder than words.