As rain falls into a pool of water, some drops shift the water by a ripple, others a wave and some actually make a splash. This is not unlike our confidence, where our perception is the rain drops and our confidence the pool of water. My hypothesis is that our confidence is not fixed, rather it is fluid. How we perceive the world and events at any moment shape our confidence.
Let’s begin with the definition, to ensure we are all on the same page about confidence. A quick Google search defines it:
The state of feeling certain about the truth of something.
A feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.
A common belief is to be confident in a skill or ability, one must practice. Even after becoming proficient, this does not mean that our confidence cannot be shaken by circumstance. For example, most of us are confident in our driving ability. If a car appears suddenly, we may feel that ripple in our confidence. We become aware of any risk and our ability to handle the situation. Our ability to see the car and quickly determine our choices has a significant influence on our sense of confidence. In this car scenario, our perception of something going wrong, the appearance of risk or failure, has a deflating impact on our confidence.
Our thoughts may drift to an outside influence, such as a person’s reaction. Our confidence can waver. Simply looking at a person’s reaction as their own, and not a reflection of yourself, can settle the water down. Our awareness results in a ripple in confidence, rather than a splash. True confidence is not immune to being challenged. It is all in our perception of the circumstance, or relationship with the circumstance, that determines how we settle ourselves. The smoother the water, the more confident we feel.
Overconfidence or the portrayal of confidence is vastly different. Here we do not actually have the perceived abilities or qualities required. Our perception of the situation may pull us to conveying confidence regardless. An example is giving a presentation to a large audience, on new material. There are many studies that suggest we must appear confident to succeed.
Does this suggest that our water is still? Not in my opinion. In these situations, we are faced with the choice of believing in our abilities and their transference into a new situation. Our perception of the gaps between our ability and the tasks at hand may be ripples or waves running through our confidence.
What if it is a splash? In this metaphor that splash is fear. When we are afraid of failing it negates our confidence. If we have the charisma to pull through our fear, no one may perceive us as failing, even when we do. Most of us do not have the personality to pull through a failure and project confidence.
What are the options, if we are facing fear of failure? Do we fake it? Or do we change our perception of failure? If you go out believing you can do your best, you are more likely to succeed. If you see your level of confidence not as black or white, rather as an opportunity to practice, you can change your outcome and hence your confidence.
The bottom line is you have to believe in yourself. What will support you in achieving the confidence you desire? I would be honored to work together to shape your perception about how confident you can be, and how you can maintain your fluidity in any moment. Please contact me via my contact page or my email link.