Confidence: Your Key to Certain Success
One of the most important attributes an individual can have is confidence. Confidence is invaluable in every area of life, but in business or in achieving any measure of greatness, it is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, there are few places we can go to learn this essential skill. Yet, it is a skill and, as such, can be developed with the right tools.
The first tool for gaining confidence is knowledge. Knowledge of your own strengths and limitations, and knowledge of the arena in which you wish to excel. But knowledge alone isn’t enough.
Knowledge leads to confidence only when it is validated by experience. We test the validity of what we think or believe by putting the theory into actual practice and gathering data or feedback from the experience. If the feedback is positive, we assume our theories are correct and act accordingly. If the feedback is negative, the bold among us will adjust our course, while the more timid often allow the negative feedback to stop them cold.
Confidence can be gained by knowing, understanding and correctly applying the following formulas and factors:
(1) Knowledge + Experience + Positive Feedback = Confidence.
(2) Positive feedback comes from successful outcomes.
(3) Successful outcomes are the result of consistent practice and repeated attempts.
(4) Repeated attempts are possible only when we believe we will eventually succeed.
The formula seems to be saying that we must believe in our ability to succeed before we have experienced any semblance of success, and that is true. That’s where the knowledge part of the confidence formula comes in, and why it is the first equation in the formula. Before we can believe we will succeed without ever having made an attempt, we must have some knowledge as to what success entails and what strengths and abilities we bring to the mix. We must also know the truth about “failure”.
Failure is not the result of attempting to achieve a goal and falling short of the mark. Failure occurs when we allow falling short of the mark to cause us to quit trying. Actually, there are only three ways to fail:
(1) Never get started.
(2) Give up before you reach a goal you really want or
(3) Continue on a path that is wrong for you.
Just because you can't be certain of success or have made wrong choices when you attempted to succeed, doesn't mean you should believe the path you are on is the one you must stay with.
Suppose, for example, a friend or business associate asks you to meet him in and unfamiliar location. Using failure formula number one, you wouldn't eve leave your home or office.
But say you did start out intending to meet the friend and along the way you get turned around and find yourself lost. Using failure formula number two, you would discover you are lost and attempt to correct your course a time or two. But, imagine that you are too far off course for just one or two corrections to get you back on track. Functioning from failure formula number two, you might make another correction or two, but after three or four corrections you would decide you will never be able to find your way and give up never reaching your destination.
Using failure formula number three you would decide that even though you made a wrong turn, you must stick with it because that’s the direction in which you are now headed and to make a new choice would mean you failed when you made the original decision that got you lost. So you continue down the wrong road, knowing it’s wrong, but refusing to make an alteration because you’ve already made a choice, however wrong it may be.
Each scenario sounds pretty absurd in that context, but the world is full of people who never get started, give up and quit before reaching their goal, or stay with bad choices long after they have discovered they are bad.
To ensure success you must be willing to alter your course and keep altering it for as long as it takes. You must be willing to try again and again, as many times as necessary to reach your destination. Whether you reach it or not will depend on your belief in your ability to eventually arrive and that brings us back to the confidence formula.
The faith to keep trying ultimately comes from knowing yourself, your abilities, and knowing how to use them most effectively. In the hustle-bustle of today’s world, we sometimes forget to take a thorough look at our most valuable asset . . . ourselves. Only with self-awareness and understanding can we come to believe in our ability to find the right solution and to arrive at our goals.
People who don’t know themselves are easily side-tracked. They have no well-defined personal boundaries and no center of power. A thorough and accurate self-assessment can provide the compass we need to get and stay on track. Without a center of power and personal boundaries to guide us, there is no way we can achieve our goals because there is no way to know for sure what our goals are or should be.
Happy, centered, well-directed successful people are people who know their own core being and honor it. These are the people who have the basic tools to attempt new things, to set new goals and to persist in pursuing them. These people succeed because every achieved goal increases their faith in their ability to succeed and enables them to try greater and greater things. The happy result is a high degree of self-confidence and success which just keeps perpetuating itself.
Article by Sherry Buffington, Ph.D.
Sherry Buffington, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of the Dallas based training, consulting and coaching firm, Star Performance Systems, which specializes in helping individuals succeed and organizations increase their productivity and profits by maximizing the potential of their people.