Confidence, a state of mind, is more important than past accuracy or demonstrated expertise in earning trust. And, in repeated studies, it is a greater predictor of success than competence.
Self-confidence is the sense that we can master something. A belief that we can accomplish the task we want to accomplish, whether it is with skills, experience, or creative problem solving.
As part art and part science, confidence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is not bravado, boosted by exercises to increase self-esteem, or simply based on experience. Confidence the emotional regard of a promise that we can live into: “I can do it—or figure out a way to do it.”
Courage can be a crucial partner to confidence, especially early on when there is little or no experience with a new endeavor. A belief in the lack of ability to succeed ghostwrites procrastination and hesitancy. Confidence can make the difference between those who imagine and those who act.
There are things we do to ourselves that diminish confidence. To be thin-skinned and prefer to be liked rather than respected. To be afraid to say no and abandon our own needs. To not make someone mad by asking for more money. To ruminate about a criticism or negative comment rather than seeing it as a self-statement of the speaker or writer. To take the blame for things gone bad, and credit fate for successes. To over-personalize a setback and undermine confidence.
Confidence is not about whether we are capable of doing the task, but whether we assess ourselves and believe that we are capable of doing the task. Gaining confidence means getting outside our comfort zones, experiencing setbacks, and trying again.
Consciously recalling the moment of previous mastery when we are facing a daunting task or situation trumps doubt and can ground us in the resilience to create solutions. When we deliberately face a fear or the uncertainly of doing something new, we write a new story rather than reentering doubts about ourselves, or stopping short of moving forward. The anxiety is not read as a warning to retreat to the familiar and the comfortable, but reframed as a signal of being in new territory, of growth beyond where we have ever been.
Some problems can’t be solved; they simply have to be outlived. By pairing an old pattern of fear or uncertainty with a new, more positive pattern of courage and actions, we contradict the old and rewire an experience of confidence.
Confidence is, ultimately, about taking action. Repeat attempts. Recalibrate results. Adjust. Leave your comfort zone. Move forward. Fail fast in small ways. Assess. Adjust. Move forward.
We can rewire our brains to become more confident for the long term. A calm brain is the ultimate confidence tool.