There isn’t a day in my coaching practice where a question about confidence doesn’t come up.
Confidence is often seen as the CORE DEFICIT when performance is sub par.
I have never heard an athlete say, “Shaun, I am playing really poorly but my confidence is in tact.”
This leads me to think that many understand confidence to be only present when one is playing well and absent when performance is sub par. Therefore, when performance drops confidence drops with it.
Confidence must be understood differently for it to be of great value.
So, what is a better way to think of confidence?
Watch my Building Unshakable Confidence Coaching Video for greater understanding!
To begin I offer this definition of confidence:
Confidence is the belief that one generates concerning their ability to be successful in their arena of performance.
I want to emphasis that for confidence to be present it must be generated from within the individual. Nobody, no matter how well meaning, encouraging, positive, or caring, can GIVE LONG-TERM CONFIDENCE to another. They must see this as THEIR RESPONSIBILITY. For confidence to be sustainable it must be based on three interchangeable dynamics.
First, COMPETENCIES or SKILLS. In other words, do I have the SKILLS to compete and create success. Skills are what bridge effort to success. Not only must energy be exerted but there must be a level of mastery that qualifies the individual to realistically believe success is possible. There is no level of confidence that will overcompensate for a deficit in skills. True confidence is grounded in skills that are connected to success in the arena of competition.
Second, COURAGE. Once you have the skills you must courageously express them in the midst of competition. Fear, anxiety and pressure all contribute to inhibiting the full self expression of your skills. When this happens it is not a lack of confidence that is inhibiting you, it is your lack of courage. It is a funny thing but when you fully express yourself utilizing the skills you have diligently worked to have you begin to experience a deeper belief in yourself.
Lastly, confidence is generated through your CONVERSATION. The conversation I am referring to is the one you have with yourself. This type of conversation is often understood as your inner dialogue. When you do not experience success and you tell yourself “I suck” or “why can’t I ever catch a break?” or “I am unlucky” you are literally generating a LACK OF CONFIDENCE. The inner dialogue of a person of confidence is made up of thoughts that sound like “Hang in there,” “you can do this,” or “you are real close, with a bit more practice you can get there.”
The important thing to remember is that false confidence is built on lies and rationalizations while authentic confidence is generated from truthful feedback and tested skills.
Confidence results when COMPETENCIES have been mastered, COURAGE is expressed, and your inner CONVERSATION supports your belief in your ability to figure it out as you are tested in the midst of competition.
Let’s quit using a lack of confidence as the easy and lazy explanation for sub-par performance and start seeing that sub-par performance is often the result of sub-par skills, inhibited self expression and self-defeating inner dialogue along with a lack of role defintion and feedback associated with that defined role.
When we train young athletes to see the strengthening of their confidence as their responsibility and equip them with a framework to practice it we give them a skill for life. In this way sports provides a great training ground for life-time growth and impact.
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