What is confidence? This is a great question to ask because confidence is a precursor to getting better results.
When one of my mentees asked me how to improve their confidence, I realized I needed to get a better handle on what exactly it is. It’s one thing to have it, another to know how to help others cultivate it.
You Will Figure It Out, or Find a Way
In my experience, confidence comes from having a belief that you’ll figure it out or find a way. The pitfall is to base your confidence only on your competence.
The problem is that you don’t yet have competence in new areas. I think the most powerful vehicle for confidence comes from within, when it’s a mission or a vision that compels you to march on no matter what.
In Overachievement: The New Model for Exceptional Performance, John Eliot, Ph. D. writes about what confidence is and what confidence is not.
Confidence is Knowing and Going
Confidence is about having a vision and executing against it. According to Eliot, confidence is knowing and going.
“If the road ahead does not excite you, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to persuade yourself to enjoy it. Even if you could, the result would not be confidence. Confidence is a vision coupled with the execution of that vision — knowing and going.
As one of my other favorite ‘overconfident’ athletes, Joe Namath, used to say, ‘To be a leader, you have to make people follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t know where he is going.’”
What Confidence is Not
To really know confidence, you need to know what confidence is not. According to Eliot, the following is a list of what confidence is not:
- Confidence is not your track record. Confidence comes before success, but you shouldn’t base your confidence on your success.
- Confidence is not a button to be pushed. Confidence isn’t something you turn on only when you need it. You cultivate it, particularly through confident thinking when you face adversity.
- Confidence does not change your physical skills. Confidence won’t make up for a lack of skills or ability. However, confidence will help fuel your effort to build your skills before they start paying off.
- Confidence is not about "building self-esteem." While believing in yourself is important, it should be based on something you truly believe. You can cultivate your confidence by building competence.
- Confidence is different from "false confident." Telling yourself you are confident, when you are not, is not confidence. You are either confident or you aren’t.
- Confidence should not be confused with strategy. Don’t blame a failure or loss on overconfidence, if the issue really was a lack of preparation or the wrong approach or strategy.
- Confidence is not arrogance. Arrogance is thinking your better than someone or too good for something.Having a passion for success and a belief in your ability is not the same as arrogance.
Key Take Aways
Here are my key take aways:
- Confidence is knowing and going. Use your mission or vision to build your confidence
- Confidence comes before success. Confidence comes before competence. It’s your confident action that will lead to success.
- Don’t base confidence on your competence. Don’t tie confidence to your results. Instead, take confidence action and focus on what you control.
Vision is a powerful thing. Use future-you to pull you through.