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Expect More! Notre Dame legends Arike Ogunbowale and Muffet McGraw do

Dare to Stand Up and Stand Out

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NCAA Womens Basketball: Duke at Notre Dame
Feb 21, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw watches in the second half against the Duke Blue Devils at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve had the opportunity to meet Muffet McGraw a few times over the past several years, and each time I am even more impressed than the time before. She is kind, insightful, and ever so supportive of all the women around her ... both young and old. I saw her twice this past fall, the second of which was at the bookstore as she was signing her new book, which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. In the event that you didn’t know she has a new book out, I thought I’d share an excerpt of it with you. Here we go!

But before I start ... as a woman with confidence issues, the excerpt below has resonated with me tremendously. Over the last ten or so years, I have learned the value of “fake it ‘til you make it,” as I’ve found myself in so many situations where I didn’t think/feel I belonged. Eventually, though, I have (and continue to) learned to believe in myself, and understand that I am enough just as I am, regardless of the opinions of others.

Assume You Are the Best

Be Decisive and Believe in Yourself

Asking questions and listening to answers is a good part of the formula of success for a leader in any situation. Most people — especially women — are easily intimidated and tend to hang back and hesitate to answer questions at first. In general, people hate to be wrong and are really hard on themselves if they misspeak and give a wrong answer. At Notre Dame, I had a lot of perfectionists on my teams. They really wanted to be right every time. They worked hard and they were never satisfied. Perfectionists expect a lot from themselves and feel more pressure to perform because they judge themselves so critically. This is ironic because it is their desire for perfection that makes them so good, but that desire is also their downfall because they can never attain the perfection they are seeking. This creates a lot of stress and anxiety which affects their performance.


Women take criticism so personally but can’t take compliments the same way. We walk a fine line between being confident and not too confident, lest we be accused of being arrogant. We need to speak up for ourselves, but not too loudly because we are supposed to be humble. We should be proud of our success, but not brag because we are supposed to be team players. It’s truly exhausting when you think about it!

Our best players were the ones who could fail and move on from it. I remember a reporter asking Arike Ogunbowale how she felt at halftime of the Connecticut semi-final game because she was something like 0-for-10 shooting at that point. She was shocked to hear she had missed ten shots and said she just assumed that in the second half they would all go in. Great players put their mistakes aside and keep taking chances. They never stop shooting even if they haven’t made many.

Really, most successful people never change their mindset. They assume the next shot will go in, the next idea will be accepted, the next project will secure more sales, and on and on. They are usually more surprised when they don’t have success than when things go their way. It takes confidence to act this way. It’s great to know that your coaches, supervisors, teammate and coworkers believe in you, but it always comes down to how much you believe in yourself.

There are so many great nuggets in this book, that apply to both men and women. I hope you take a moment and pick up a copy for yourself. (Here’s Muffet’s other book, in case you’re interested in that a well: Courting Success: Muffet McGraw’s Formula for Winning—in Sports and in Life.

Cheers & GO IRISH!