A few years ago, I was leaving a basketball game and there was an incredibly inspirational quote on the wall that stopped me dead in my tracks. Unfortunately, I cannot recall it word for word and my Google searching hasn’t turned up anything either. However I found three other quotes that, in combination, express the sentiment well:
- “Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your talent, there is only one way to obtain it–work.” –Jack Nicklaus, professional golfer
- “Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.” –Thomas Carlyle, writer in the 1800s
- “There’s nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn’t.” –Amy Chua, Yale law professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Confidence isn’t something that you either have or don’t have and that’s that. No matter your starting point, you can improve your confidence. And you can approach it in a more tangible and meaningful way than the overly simplistic cliche ‘believe in yourself.’ You earn confidence. Putting in the work, developing your skills, and achieving something builds confidence. This process can be repeated and applied to almost any aspect in life.
Why does this work? When you set your goals too low and achieve something you know you can do, it gives you absolutely no useful information about yourself and your abilities. But when you have doubt about your ability to attain a challenging goal, and then you go ahead and conquer it, this gives you a new data point about your capabilities, and raises the bar of what you think you can and cannot accomplish.
How important is confidence at work? For both individual work productivity as well as teamwork, research shows it is better to be slightly overconfident than to have a realistic assessment of your abilities, or worse, to be under-confident. Propelled by positive momentum and expectations, having confidence in yourself or your team influences you to participate at a higher level. Which over time leads to even more success!