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What is Confidence?

The one piece of advice that everyone gets when they are about to do something new or special is, “Have Confidence!”

As if confidence is a commodity that you can get off the shelf in a supermarket.

Before I talk any more about confidence, let me relate a couple of examples from my life.

For most of my life, I have had a certain degree of confidence in my ability to write. I may not be able to write great stuff, but readable stuff, any day. Over time this confidence grew and it was difficult for me to believe people who said they just couldn’t write. Writing, after all, is just another way of communicating. If you can speak, you shouldn’t have any trouble writing.


Then, one day, out of the blue the seed of a thought entered my brain and planted itself. What if one day I find that I am not able to write? In no time this seed grew into a sapling and then into a plant. It was a disturbing thought and one that had the ability to give me sleepless nights. My confidence had begin to waver.

I discussed my dilemma with a friend, who told me another interesting story.

During his school days, he said, he always got good marks. While preparing for an exam, he used to prepare so as to be able to answer all the questions expected in the exam. Similarly, when attempting the exam, his endeavor was to try and get as high a score as possible, and minimize the chance for the instructor to deduct any marks.

Later, when he went to college, he began to take a little less interest in studies and as usually happens when studies take a back seat, his marks began to deteriorate gradually, and eventually he was happy with getting just enough marks to get the minimum grade required for passing the class.

Then, he said, he realized that something else had changed.

While preparing for an exam, instead of trying to get the highest possible grade, he found himself focusing on preparing just enough to be able to get the minimum grade required for passing. This attitude was reflected while sitting for the exam as well, where he mainly focused on getting the passing marks, and after that the rest of the paper was attempted in a casual manner. Needless to say, my friend never got great marks in college. He had essentially lost his confidence to get good marks.

So, I found myself wondering what is this elusive quality and how can we get it?

Of the many definitions of confidence that I found on the Internet, this one from Jocelyn K. Glei’s site seemed pretty useful to me:

“Confidence is essentially the stuff that turns our thoughts into action. Basically, it greases the wheels for action.”

So, if you don’t have enough grease, the wheels won’t turn, and if you have more than the required amount of grease, it will become a mess.

So, now that you know what confidence is, how can you build it?

Confidence, by itself, is an end product. You have to do other things right to gain confidence. Some of these things are:

Get better at doing what you want to do

Learn. Practice. Repeat.

Learn the fundamentals of the thing you want to be confident about. Practice the thing, and get better at it. Keep practicing till you get as good as you want to be. But, while practicing, don’t forget to keep learning new things, and develop the habit of deliberate practice.

Believe in Yourself

If you don’t believe in yourself, who do you believe in? There is no one else you can believe in as much as yourself, and yet sometimes you just don’t have the faith you need. Maybe you have lied to yourself too many times, or maybe you have broken your own trust too many times. Stop doing that right now. Make only those promises to yourself that you know you can keep.

Avoid Negativity and Negative People

Negative thoughts, as I found out to my dismay, are the biggest enemies of confidence. Don’t let yourself think them. As is often said, every time a doubt raise its ugly head in your mind with a “What if…,” stamp it under your boot promptly with a “So what…”

The people we are surrounded by affect our lives to a great extent. So, make sure you are surrounded by positive and confident people. Their positive attitude and confidence is bound to rub off on you even if you don’t make a lot of effort.

Improve the version of you that you are today

It’s easy to let things happen on their own, and become a passive actor in the events of one’s own life. It also allows us to blame something or someone for the bad things that are happening to us. In the long run, however, this attitude is detrimental to the quality of your life. Don’t let that happen to you. You don’t have to try to become better than your neighbor or your friend; just become a better person than what you were the day before.

Make a deliberate choice to become a better version of yourself.

A simple formula

Confidence = Courage X Competence

I liked this formula that I found on the Internet. Since it is self explanatory, I won’t say much about it. You simply got to work on your courage as well as your competence, if you want to improve your confidence. I am sure you can do that. Are you?

(Image Courtesy: PeteLinforth from PixaBay)

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