I ‘ve been watching an exponent of supreme confidence on TV this week. I’m not talking about the confidence that most of us as broadcasters display when doing a day’s work. I’m referring to that sense of self belief when there is no doubting one’s ability and no listening to those who criticise. Love him or loathe him, Piers Morgan makes a goal scoring Ronaldo look like a nervous wreck.
We have all heard the advice. It starts with the importance of not being too big for your boots. It includes the dislike everyone has for a smart Alec and regular reminders about the bigger you are the harder you fall.
Piers has ignored all that sensible guidance. Bursting onto the Talk TV screens carrying the hopes of Rupert Murdoch’s latest multi-million dollar venture he just stopped short of describing his own return as the second coming of Christ. Unbridled self-belief with all the skills to back it up.
Piers reminds me of my old English teacher. Sean Hollywood was an outstanding talent. He was an actor, director, writer, producer speechmaker and hurler. He would smile at my inclusion of his sporting prowess as his rotund form, bulging chest and wide waistline hindered him occasionally on the field of play. In the drama world however he excelled and on his passing they named the Newry Arts Centre after him.
There is a much told story about Sean gliding along the marble corridors of St Colman’s college. He didn’t stride like other teachers he just skimmed along carrying his obvious bulk with some grace. He was immensely respected.
The boys tended to behave a little better in his presence so imagine the shock when one exceptionally cheeky lad tapped Hollywood on the belly and said in front of 40 others, “Are you expecting a baby sir, if so, what will you call it?”
Those who heard it could not believe their ears. However in an instant came a magical reply. “If it’s a girl I’ll call it Mary after my dear aunt, if it’s a boy I’ll call it John after my old uncle but if, as I suspect, it’s a mix of bile and wind I’ll call it after you.”
It was a retort that reinforced his legendary status and confirmed that his supreme confidence came from his mastery of the English he taught.
Sean Hollywood was also a civil rights campaigner; he was man of peace but vocal in his protest. He would have detested Piers so I’m not so sure he’d in any way appreciate this comparison but he sowed seeds of confidence in those he taught.
Many former pupils now in the legal profession when speaking in court will borrow from his poise and gesture. Professionals from clerics to clerks will have benefited from being tutored by him.
We used to enjoy when he would chose his favourite pupil to show the rest of us how talented we could all be if only we had the confidence to step into the limelight. That protégé was John Lynch star of Cal, Sliding Doors, Silent Witness, Tin Star and many others. He was a natural. Hollywood nurtured him and by doing so encouraged us all.
Not everyone will have had the guidance of an inspirational figure so as a result many people lack the confidence to take on the most basic challenges in public but it’s a skill that can be built upon.
Life coaches and gurus make a small fortune guiding the likes of politicians, teachers and sports stars to be more confident today than they were yesterday.
It may be money and time well spent but there is another way. Simply watch Piers Morgan. Read up on every debacle he’s ever been involved in and then remind yourself that he is still quite possibly the most confident man on the planet. If he can earn that honour there is hope for everybody.
Frank presents U105 Phone In Monday-Friday from 9am-noon