“No one will believe in you unless you do.”
I have spoken to hundreds of audiences, and literally millions of people about Self-Confidence. I have coached Business Leaders, World Champions and Olympians. I have written a book about Self-Confidence, dozens of articles, and did my PHD research on the link between high performance and confidence.
I think of self-confidence as the belief in your ability to accomplish the task at hand. That doesn’t mean being deluded that you can do impossible things. Self-confidence is a belief that you can do something beyond your current level of experience and skill. It’s also having faith that you can handle adversity, and even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as you had hoped, you know you did your best.
Dozens of studies have been conducted about the role that confidence plays in our ability to turn thoughts into action. For example, renowned psychologist Albert Bandura discovered that confident people see difficult tasks as challenges to be overcome rather than situations to avoid.
He also found that confident people recover more quickly from setbacks and respond with increased effort, both of which are critical for long-term success.
Another advantage of believing in yourself is that it can lead to a better quality of life. Research shows that confidence is related to better mental and physical health, higher educational achievement, improved literacy, lower drop-out rates and better economic standing. You don’t need to be a Harvard grad to have self-confidence, but if you have self-confidence, you are more likely to attend a better school, get a better job and lead a better life.
In fact, there is significant evidence that self-confidence is a more important factor in determining success than talent is.
Confident people aren’t any taller, smarter, better-looking or richer than you or me, and an Ivy League education isn’t required. What they have is a belief in themselves, which anyone can develop.
The difficulty is that most people view self-confidence as an inborn quality that someone either has or doesn’t have. I have met so many folks who think, I’m just not the kind of person who is confident about their abilities. Maybe you are one of those people. Maybe you figure you were out picking up bread when they passed out the confidence gene, that you don’t have it and you can’t get it.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Self-confidence is a global skill that anyone—and I mean anyone—can learn.
Putting yourself in situations where you overcome challenges or obstacles—over and over again, even if they are relatively small—develops the skill of self-confidence. You don’t need to win a national championship. You just need to do something that challenges you. Maybe it’s volunteering as an assistant so you can learn from the best, getting back into the job market after you have been fired, or sending your manuscript in again after ten rejections and having it be accepted.
With each small increase in challenge you take on, you gain a bit more belief in your ability to succeed until you are so confident that success is no more difficult than getting to work on time or calling a friend.
That’s when you become a crazy one. What’s that, you ask?
One of my favorite commercials is the “Crazy Ones” commercial from Apple’s 1997 Think Different campaign—the one with famous innovators like Pablo Picasso, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, Amelia Earhart, Jim Henson and Albert Einstein.
I will never forget how it made me feel when I saw that ad for the first time. My spine tingled from the instant I heard those first words: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.” And since then, every time I see the video my heart races all the way to that incredible final line: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
If we want to, any of us can become a crazy one.
We may not lead a civil rights movement or fly a plane across the Atlantic or invent a device that revolutionizes the world, but we never know what we can accomplish. We are all engaged in things that matter. We are all living our one life. And we all have an opportunity, every single day, to do it better. To be a better parent, friend, spouse or coworker. To help someone out. To invent a new way. To make a bold suggestion. To speak out against injustice. To create something original. You never know what you can accomplish until you try.
It’s an illusion to think that greatness belongs to a privileged few who act on the global stage. Every one of us has the capacity to be great. I have seen this truth play out over and over again in my own life—in my research, in my coaching career and in my experiences speaking all over North America.
Every life is wonderful and worthwhile. Yours matters. You are not small because you won’t change history. What matters is whatever you care about. Your life. Sure, the pressures you face in a cubicle or gym or corner office may not be the same as those faced by the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl, but they are no less important. They matter to you as much as anything matters to anyone. And all you need to do to achieve your best life is to believe in yourself.
Mine is a story of self-confidence. Yours can be too.
You can develop the skill of self-confidence and put that skill to use in your day-to-day life. At work, at home, at school and in everything you do, you can become a high-performing individual—a better version of yourself.
With the skill of self-confidence, the sky is the limit.