How can confidence influence success?
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope or confidence" - Helen Keller.
Whether you are going for a job interview, going on stage for the first time, or even just trying out a new look, confidence plays a major role in how you perform. Confidence is a state of mind, it is knowing your strengths and behaving in a manor that conveys this to others. You believe you can achieve whatever goal you are setting out to achieve. A lack of confidence however, is believing that you are less valuable than you actually are and selling yourself short when you are called into action even before the battle has begun. Confidence has such a big impact on our lives it even has a say in how we walk down the street. For example, if you see someone slightly hunched over, keeping their shoulders tight and their head low walking towards you, you wouldn't get the feeling that this person is exactly glowing with confidence.
When an employer is interviewing a list of potential employees, they often note that confidence is something that is sure to catch their eye. The same can be said when a male or female is looking for a suitable partner. Confidence is undoubtedly an attractive quality. Yet confidence is not always an easy thing to have. The truth is, most people will struggle with a lack of confidence at times, but there are ways to give yourself that little boost you may need.
It is supposed that Benjamin Franklin once said that "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". There is a lot of truth to this. Yes there are times where you will get lucky and things just happen to go your way, but it never hurts to have things planned out just in case. If you are driving a route you have never taken before, your first concern will obviously be getting lost. But by taking the time to study the route and become familiar with the road you must take, you will become more and more confident in your ability to complete the journey. It may seem like a rather simple solution, and it is, but it is certainly tried and tested.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and picking your battles accordingly will minimize the risk of failure leaving you more optimistic of a positive outcome. You can then approach the situation with a confident attitude. When we make a habit of this, we gain more confidence in our own abilities, and even discover more abilities you didn't know you had because confidence is not achieved from a single act, but from a series of victories.
Surround yourself with positivity
"I think, therefore I am". Rene Descartes was a French philosopher and mathematician and is credited as a leading figure in the development of the Western notions of science and reason. Descartes struggled with what he called, "The theory of knowing", which called into question the legitimacy of his existence. Descartes entertained the possibility that his life could just be an illusion put forth by a demon and that he himself, and the world around him was false. His famous quote, "I think, therefore I am" represents his conclusion that by the simple fact that he was even having these doubts in the first place, he surely had to exist.
We can take this quote as a lesson in positivity also. Yes, knowing we exist is a great start, but now we must chose the quality of our existence. Any living thing will thrive according to the environment it is immersed in. If you are trying to survive in an area suffering from air and water pollution, this will take a toll on your quality of life. The same can be said if you are growing up surrounded by negativity. This negativity will seep into your attitude and lower your confidence as a result. If a child is lead to believe they cannot amount to anything, what reason to feel confident? However, if a child is brought up with positive reinforcement, their confidence will grow as they do.
It is never too late to adopt a positive attitude. If you find that your surroundings are having a negative impact on you, it is important that you seek something more fulfilling. Change is a series of progressive actions. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, as well as challenge you to grow. You will automatically begin to feed off this positivity and discover completely new potentials and hopefully, the confidence to achieve them.
Acknowledge the possibility of failure
Sometimes, no matter how confident we are, things just don't go the way we had hoped they would. Failure is inevitable at some point or another. But to fail in something does not mean that it is the end. In failure, there are always lessons to be learned. By discovering a weakness through a certain failure, you can identify, and with practice, possibly eliminate that weakness. If you find you cannot completely deal with that weakness, you can always learn to prevent it from coming into play. But how does this relate to confidence? Knowing that everybody suffers a defeat every now and again, and that it is ok to fail can take a lot of pressure off. When you are burdened with expectations of perfection, this can become too much to handle and can drain a persons confidence. Say a girl has a picture of the perfect outfit in her mind. She finds and buys the outfit, only to try it on and discover that it does not quite look as good as she had hoped. One of two things can happen with this realization;
- As a result, her confidence takes a hit and she becomes discouraged towards finding an alternative, possibly in something similar.
- She acknowledges that the outfit simply did not suit her for whatever reason and she remains confident that she will find something that will suit her.
I have had that experience many times, most recently with a t-shirt I had been eyeing up. But I ultimately was forced to admit, that lemon was just not my color (please keep the criticism of my fashion choices to a minimum). We will encounter failure in many things, a job interview, rejection from a crush, or even in something as simple as dressing ourselves. But we cannot let it take away the confidence we have worked hard to earn, and instead, use whatever criticism we may receive as a learning experience.
People have tremendous potential. Potential to cause change, to explore, to create inspiring works of art that perhaps cause others to realize potential of their own. But to achieve such things requires the confidence to believe that not only they can be achieved, but that you can be the one to achieve them. Cherish every victory, big or small, and learn from any defeat or setback. Fight to achieve and maintain a positive setting that will feed your confidence and be willing to take the risk, whether the risk is a new job, sparking a conversation with a crush or whether the risk is simply, in hindsight, a ridiculous lemon t-shirt.
© 2015 Sean Gorman