One area I am seeing more and more in people in OCR, sport and in the working world is confidence, or more importantly a lack of inner confidence in themselves to take on the challenges they have in front of them or to take a leap into the unknown and achieve the aspirations they choose to pursue.
The manifestations of this are incredibly diverse.
Some say they want to try something that they have never tried before, however state that they don’t want to explore their limits by pushing their Personal Records or start to learn new skills that are essential for success in that new role or responsibility.
Others start to go down that track of pushing themselves into new ground, but when the going gets tough and they find the experience difficult and uncomfortable, they take a step back and lose faith in their ability to get through to their goal, however big it might feel.
And some demonstrate over-confidence, constantly preaching of their successes, belittling other peoples’ successes and seeking the nods of approval from those around that they are the queen or king.
At the core of each of these is a desire that exists within all of us – the desire to achieve and gain recognition from somewhere of that achievement, and when this desire is challenged this can affect our own self-confidence.
On top of this, we live in a society that is constantly pressing us to be more successful without appreciating the apparent failures that are essential for learning. The pursuit of being more complete, more whole, more perfect is the undertone to a lot of the content published by traditional media channels, and the response on social media when someone doesn’t do something that the persecutor expects are all factors that impact our ability to feel confident in times when we feel uncomfortable.
So what can we do to maintain and build confidence in the face of these internal and external pressures when we are trying to achieve something?
Only one experience matters
The first thing I have found effective is to accept one truth – only one person’s opinion truly counts when you are assessing whether you are successful or not, and that is the person themselves.
If you look at those who are perceived to have been successful, that perception is often generated from assessment of the metrics others have placed upon them. But their confidence is often maintained because they have an internal goal and philosophy they are committed to pursuing, and their confidence comes from an assessment of their own performance versus the metrics they deem valuable and the feelings they have about that performance. Yes they might take onboard those external opinions but they are checked against their internal benchmarks.
The next thing is to realise that as humans we are exactly that – human.
We are a fascinatingly diverse group of individuals who have been shaped by our experiences within the world, applying, learning and evolving to meet the challenges of survival that have been placed before us. Some of us are tall, some of us are quick, some of us are agile and some of us are thoughtful. However these attributes will all only be useful where height, speed, flexibility and the ability to think broadly and deeply are required to achieve something. There are other times when the complete opposite of one or more of these attributes is required to succeed.
So what if we took time to reflect upon what attributes we have, in detail, and applied ourselves to expanding our capacity and ability to use those attributes differently to the situations we face in pursuit of our goals?
Doing this in a considered way, humbly recognising our successes when we break through our limits and seeking the learning to grow when we fail to break through, can keep us as humans on track to our goals without letting our inner confidence subside.
The support of a few over that of many
The final thing that I have observed helps maintain inner confidence is to have a support framework that is known, trusted and present in both times of success and in failure.
It easy to think that broadcasting your successes to your entire social network following or the world in your immediate vicinity is going to give you a confidence boost, but would you do the same thing to the same people when you fail to achieve the goal you are pursuing?
Having one or two people that you can truly share your experiences with in pursuit of a goal, no matter how positive or negative those experiences might have been can satisfy your inner need for recognition and support, maintaining your inner confidence without impacting the confidence of those around. They can pick you up when you are down, listening, sharing and providing small steps to focus on that keep you on track towards that position you are looking to be in.
But do not forget…
Amongst all of this, it is worthwhile remembering that as time ticks on, our emotional response to our experiences ebbs and flows. One day we feel high, the next we feel low. If we keep one eye on where we going and the other on what we’ve learnt from where we’ve been, we can keep those emotions and our response to them in balance to ultimately achieve what we aspire to be.