Most of us experience confidence in relation to circumstances. Tied to past experiences, success, and whatever garden-variety of good luck you can muster together, this is what I call symptomatic confidence.
It goes without saying, that whenever you are at the top of your game, confidence spikes up. And we usually let it slide, accepting it as it is.
True confidence on the other hand, the one that impacts attitude, and not the other way around, is a bird of another feather. Coming from within, it is not the result of external events.
The bad thing about symptomatic confidence
Is environment. Taken out of environment or sequence, it almost never occurs.
- When you score couple of times from the free throw line, it is easy to go for another round of foul shots.
- When your five previous projects went bananas in revenue, it is easy to approach your next one with confidence.
- If you finished all your previous weekend bike trips without ever falling off your seat, it goes without saying that you feel confident enough in your skills.
But symptomatic confidence, though easy to acquire, is not very useful. For it relies on external stimuli in order to grow. Bad timing or lousy circumstances might mean the end of it. The faster it comes, the faster it might go away.
Real confidence comes from within
I don’t believe that practicing self-awareness translates into being more confident. Nor do I believe in staring into the mirror, while using positive mantras or whatever that one might be.
I don’t believe in thinking conservatively. What I believe in, is visualizing upfront. Believing, with certainty, that what you want will manifest in real life. That it will happen to you. And while this may have to do with the fact that I dare to day dream way too often, so far, it played havoc with reasonable expectations.
If you are passionate enough, and convinced enough, it makes sense that you are confident enough. If, on the other hand, our belief has to be strengthened by the results we accomplish, soon enough this process will prove to be inadequate. After a while, a man can no longer cope and confidence goes down the drain.
The magic circle of confidence
When you depend on having a streak in order to raise your level of confidence, there is usually an end in sight. For this process cannot last forever. And once that end comes, you are dried out and shine is off the apple.
I’m no exception here. I relied on symptomatic confidence for way to long, so depending on results in order to keep my head up comes as no surprise at all. And when you “traffic in truth” listening to others what it is that you can or cannot do, none of this seems outlandish.
Our psychology, or attitude if you so prefer, is dictating how much of our potential we are going to use, and how much action we are going to take. Potential, action, results. But what starts this cycle, at the very beginning is belief.
Now symptomatic confidence feeds our belief in relation to previous results that we accomplished. If there aren’t any to start with, this sucker usually feeds on itself. Meaning, you lack belief, which in turn makes you tap less into your potential, taking less action, ending up with even lousier results.
It could be a downward spiral of disgust if you depend on symptomatic confidence and previous results in order to lift yourself up; or it can be an ever turning wheel of success if you decide to first have belief, and start the cycle from there.
When Roger Banister broke the four minute mile, the reality for many changed. This resulted with high school kids doing the same couple of years later. What happened? Certainly not an evolution in the physical sense of the word; but rather a mental one – whereas those who stepped behind the line knew that it can be done. They had the belief, which eventually made them succeed.
Confidence comes through belief
The cycle I described above is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This process, repeated long enough, is what makes world class athletes, artists, millionaires, successful start-ups…
By extension, you have to envision results in order to have belief. Day dreaming, obsessing over and over, whatever it is that switches the trigger, it must be done. For having in mind that all of this is from within and not as a result of some external circumstances, it goes without saying that we are the only ones who can feed it and make it grow, expand.
Tactics might work, but it is all in the realm of symptomatic confidence. No, in order for true confidence to take place, it must be done through sheer belief.
We must be obsessed enough, crazy enough, passionate enough. For confidence is a choice. As simple as that.