“Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.”
– Samuel Johnson
I recently took the opportunity to write on the matter of pride. In my entry, I made my best effort to caution that pride can be an unattractive and deceptive impediment to accomplishment. Writing about confidence, then, may seem like a redundancy. I fear too many people mistake the one for the other. Too often, when we imagine someone of great confidence, we think of a person who is arrogant and self-absorbed, but these are not characteristics of confidence.
Confidence is pride before it has been corrupted by ego. Confidence is the ability to make a clear and honest assessment of your own potential without wrapping yourself up in matters of status or “victory”. It is my opinion that self-confidence is the necessary ingredient which allows a person to create new worlds and possibilities. This character trait is non-optional if you truly wish to bring your vision to fruition. Please don’t deceive yourself into believing that the world is looking to bring an opportunity to you – you must strike out and steal opportunity away!
Imagine you are someone with an incredible possibility to offer. Maybe you have a job to hire for, or perhaps you’re looking to make an investment that will pay dividends. Now, envision you have two candidates to interview. In reviewing their personal backgrounds, you observe their education and experience is nearly identical. In fact, both hold themselves to an incredibly high personal standard of integrity and dedication. References speak well of these two, as well, so what can make the difference between them?
Your first applicant comes through the door in a well-pressed suit and sporting a very clean appearance. He walks with a confident stride and his head is held high. As he sits down, he is pleasant and comfortable; his mannerisms and word choice make it clear that he knows his ability will meet and exceed your requirements. By the end of your interview, there is no doubt remaining in your mind that this candidate means every word he says and is more than willing to prove it. He leaves with a firm handshake and a sincere “thank you”.
As your first interviewee is walking out the door, he nearly bumps into your second applicant. The two make pleasantries and you summon the second into your office to meet with you. This young man looks between you and the first gentleman before being certain you meant him and then cautiously enters your space. He approaches with his head held lower and looks about uncertainly. His experiences are vast, but you’re surprised they could belong to the man in front of you now. In response to each of your questions, he answers, “I think so”. When pressed, he assures you he’s “pretty sure” he can impress if given the chance.
Confidence is often the difference between success and failure. In fact, I think it could be sustained that a person of lesser experience but greater confidence will often pull ahead of someone who is the inverse. I’m not here to suggest this is fair or right – only that it is. As people, we want to bet on a sure thing. When someone seems unsure of themselves, we experience reasonable doubt in their potential.
To make progress, it is imperative that you have an objective measure of your ability. It’s equally important that you are capable of expressing this to others that might benefit from your talents. The only caution is this: keep your ego well at bay from your talent. Never allow self-confidence – which will allow you to be a blessing to others – to suddenly become pride and arrogance. Before you can do good for those around you, you must first believe in yourself.
Thank you for your time.