I recently had a conversation with my son about confidence. Our discussion was centered on basketball, but certainly translates to other aspects of life.
I commented on the lack of confidence he seemed to be shooting the ball with. I believe my phrase was that he was shooting to not miss instead of shooting to make it. The pursuit of not failing is a sure way to fail. The courage to go for it (see last week’s blog) is the only way to reach our potential.
While my point may have been accurate, it provided no feedback or guidance. He understood what I was saying but I did nothing to help him move through it. He flippantly asked why he would have confidence when he hadn’t shot the ball well all week?
Initially I thought - what do you mean you shot bad for a week? He’s been a great shooter since he was 10 years old. How could one week of poor shooting trump 6 years of demonstrating a high level of performance of the skill? It made no sense.
Then, it hit me.
Why Should We Care? Confidence, or lack of, is the catalyst in our actions. It has a significant influence on how we think, what we say, and the way in which we act. Everyone has varying degrees of confidence in different situations.
Our experience in the field, time spent working on a skill, and passion for the subject matter all play into our confidence. But, none of them are the anchor for our confidence.
Coach Z, my high school basketball coach, used to say “confidence comes from demonstrated ability - I can’t give it to you or take it from you.” It wasn’t until recently that I realized the ‘demonstrated ability’ Coach was referencing wasn’t the ability to make a jump shot, dribble through a trap, or thread the needle on a bounce pass.
The anchor of our confidence isn’t based in WHAT we do. When we depend on desired results to determine our level of confidence, consistency is fleeting - and true progress is a wish.
Basing our confidence in HOW and WHY provides a firm foundation for it to flourish. The ‘demonstrate ability’ Coach Z referenced wasn’t about making shots. It was about the confidence of knowing you can figure it out - that you’re going to put in the work to improve and continue getting better.
REAL TALK - Action Steps So, how do we base our confidence on our process and purpose rather than the outcome? I don’t want to make the case that it's easy. If it were, then far more people would operate from a place of confidence rather than fear. However, it is simple.
Identify Your Purpose
It’s pretty tough to anchor your confidence to something you don’t know. The ability to clearly state your purpose is empowering. Do the work to reflect, assess, and identify what it is you want to do and how you want that action to impact those around you. I should also note, you have one purpose - not a purpose at home, a purpose at work, and purpose with friends. The goal is to be able to articulate your purpose in a way that applies to all aspects of your life.
Pick Your Core Values
Your purpose is your why. Your core values are your how. These values are the way you live out your purpose. Again, if you don’t know them and truly believe in them then there is no chance they can be an anchor of confidence for you. More deep work, but well worth it. Identical to your purpose, these values should apply to all areas of your life.
Get over how society sees success - money, fame, status, likes, retweets. All it does is lead to comparison that typically compromises our confidence. Living your purpose and core values should be at the center of your definition of success … if not, are they really your purpose and core values?
The discussion with my son should’ve circled back to his core values (Devoted, Selfless, Joy, Creative) and his purpose (to inspire people to apply their God-given gifts), which is where his confidence should be rooted. He can maintain confidence when shots aren’t going in because he knows he’s devoted, so he’s going to figure it out. He’s going to get better. That’s what devoted people do. And, by staying focused on his purpose it’s not about making or missing shots anyway. His ability to inspire others is based far more on his response to the adversity than it is to the initial result.
Focused on his values and purpose, his confidence can be the stable anchor he needs to go for it!
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