What is it? Where does it come from? What affects it (internal and external)? How can we control our level of confidence? What does being confident look and feel like?
Confidence in ourselves starts with the belief that we can do something well. In fact, for us to even engage in behavior or an action, we must believe that it will have a positive outcome or pay-off for us in the end or else we won’t do it. That is why experts say that confidence and fear are two sides of the same coin. In the absence of one, you get the other.
In the absence of confidence we are afraid and fear is what prevents us from taking action or moving forward. Fear is a protective mechanism that our minds developed a very long time ago, back when we were still hunters and gatherers. Fear is meant to keep us from acting in ways that may be dangerous or embarrassing. In other words, fear is what keeps us from doing things we don’t believe we are good at.
Try to imagine a life where you never engaged in behaviors you weren’t very good at; like learning to ride a bicycle or read and write. Certainly as an elite performer, you probably never would have made it past your first paper route job if you hadn’t risked falling on your butt a few times.
Fortunately, we do most of our learning when we are still young children and have yet to learn fully about fear and yet to develop a limiting belief system that tells us what we are good at and what we are bad at doing. Unfortunately, once we reach a certain age, our self-schema (belief system about yourself) is almost fully developed and it makes learning new things a lot more difficult because we have now learned fear.
Confidence is all about what you believe you CAN do and you believe you CAN do things that you are good at. But stop and think for a moment about how it is that you become good at something you didn’t use to be but are now good or even great at. Were you afraid? How did you move past fear? How did you learn or develop the new skill? What was the process like? What was the outcome?
Confidence is totally up to you and what you choose to focus on. What you focus on you get more of. If you want to get better at something you have to decide to move past the fear of being bad at it at first and focus on the fact that the more you practice it, the better you will become. It is a decision you make about what to focus on that allows you to act in a way that will produce the result you desire. If you choose to focus on how bad you are at it instead of the outcome you are working towards, which is getting better, then chances are you won’t be able to act in a way that will make you better.
Confidence is like a muscle; it needs to be used repeatedly to get stronger. The more you use it and focus on developing it, the stronger it will get. But it all starts with the belief that you can achieve the outcome you desire, followed by the decision to build it and make it stronger, which happens the more you act in accordance with that belief. That is why elite athletes practice doing the same things over and over again before they engage in a game situation; because they want to get better and stronger at the things they already do well. This is what we call MASTERY.
Until next time, remember to make every performance count!