Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to Develop Confidence

"I'm confident" is rarely a complete sentence. Usually, it's followed by something specific. You say, "I'm confident that...", as in

  • I'm confident that the sun will rise in the morning, or
  • I'm confident that my mother will make a nasty crack about someone at tonight's dinner party, or 
  • I'm confident that I can pass this exam, or
  • I'm confident that I can win over this audience.

Where does confidence come from? Usually it comes from experience, from which you've deduced a pattern, and/or  some kind of external learning.

You're confident that the sun will rise in the morning because it has for every single day of your life, as it has for every single day of the lives of everyone you know, and because astronomers have explained the earth's rotation, relative to the sun. That is experience plus learning.

You're  confident your mother will make that nasty crack because she's done it at every other dinner party you've been at with her. That's experience.

You're confident that you can pass the exam because you've passed all the exams before and because you've done all the homework. That is experience plus learning.

You're confident you can win over an audience because you've done it so many times before. This is the untold secret behind so may young stars. Crystal Bowersox, who came in second at American Idol in 2010 at the age of 24, was amazingly poised. Why? Because she began performing professionally at the age of 10. That is, she'd been a pro for 14 years by the time she got to American Idol. 14 years is a lot of experience -- it's a long time to both perfect your craft and to learn the patterns that it takes to win over an audience. That's how you develop confidence at both the craft and the performing edge.

What do you do if you aren't confident?

If you aren't confident about something, it means you don't have enough experience and/or knowledge. Which means that your task is to get that experience and/or knowledge.

If the subject about which you lack confidence is not within your control, like the sun rising or someone else's behavior, then you must do whatever research you can. Something else you can do is to plan for different possibilites. Flexibility can make up for a lack of a sure pattern.

If you need confidence about something within your control, then your only answer is practice. When I was an engineering undergrad, and terrified about my grades in technical courses, which consisted only of exam scores, my father said, "The answer is simple: do every problem in every textbook you have." Dad was right! I did all those problems and immediately began to ace all my exams. Then I became confident that as long as I did this admittedly prodigious amount of work, I'd succeed.

So developing confidence is simply a matter of increasing your knowledge and gaining experience. Ask yourself:

  • How can I learn about this subject?
  • How can I practice the skills I need?

When you have the answers to these questions, do the work suggested by those answers.

1 comment:

Misha said...

practice fauthfully confidence skills each and every day! Blessings and praise compassion.......