(Originally published 18th April, 2007)
Have you ever watched someone who’s really good at something do whatever it is that they do? It doesn’t matter what it is that they do, they all have something in common with one another: they all believe that they can do whatever it is that they’re trying to do.
Confidence is something that’s been on my mind a fair bit of late. I’ve been examining my own life and trying to improve on some of the things that I’ve done in the past. Basically, I want to increase the good stuff in my life and reduce the things that haven’t been so successful for me.
One thing that I’ve realised is that things go better when I believe that I can do whatever it is that I’m attempting. If I’m plagued with doubts and fears, then I become self conscious, I over-compensate and end up making more mistakes. Either that, or I’m so paralysed by fears that I don’t even know how to start tackling the problem. But once I start to believe that I can actually do something and internalise that belief, that’s when things start to go right and I begin to make progress on my goals.
It’s the belief thing that’s caught my attention recently. The more I believe that I can do something, the easier it is for me to achieve. Basically, it’s a matter of confidence.
There’s that old saying that practice makes perfect. Sometimes you’ll find that people can pick up something naturally and start to excel at it without much practice at all. Other times, you’ll see people practicing for years and eventually mastering whatever it is their doing. What’s the difference between these sorts of people? Basically, I think it’s just a matter of how fast the person starts to believe that they can do it.
Perhaps a common mistake is that we set our sights too high to start with, and then give up too quickly when we fail. Not everyone’s going to be able to smash a world record on their first attempt. Even those people who end up smashing the world records have to start with a much smaller goal in mind.
And that’s the trick, people: don’t try to achieve everything, all at once. Start with a much smaller goal and use it to build up some confidence in what you’re trying to do. Once you’ve mastered the small stuff, you can then work on trusting yourself with something bigger. Push your boundaries out a little further each time you try something, and over time, you’ll end up being able to handle a lot more than you ever thought possible. If you try to take on too much too early, all you’ll end up doing is overwhelming yourself.
Now, I realise that this is probably self-obvious, but there are times — especially when you’re struggling to achieve something huge — when this really isn’t that obvious at all. All you can see is this huge mountain that you need to climb and it’s too big. But if once you grok that you only need to climb it one step at a time, it gets a whole lot easier to deal with.
Marcus Garvey once said, “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started.” Wise words. Master the small things and soon you’ll find that the big things are just a collection of small things to conquer.
So, when you set out to achieve something, just believe enough to get you one step closer to the goal. Do that enough times, and you’ll already have developed enough confidence to finish.