When I was coaching youth hockey teams I learned that confidence is one of the biggest factors in success. I have to admit I sort of knew this before coaching, but that was when it really hit home. I saw case after case where a player would turn their game around based on confidence. A lack of confidence will wreck a great player. On the other hand, a shot of confidence will turn a mediocre player into a great one.
Confidence is not Everything
I am not saying Michael Jordan is better at basketball than me because of confidence alone. However, it is a game changer. We train, study, and work for our goals. This effort leads to increased confidence. Thus, it is often found in cases where it is logical. Michael Jordan was confident he would make a shot because he had done so thousands of times before. I may be assured that I make a shot in basketball, but because I have no skill or experience it is probably a false sense of success. Like most things in life, proper balance is the best path to success.
Lack of Confidence Stops Progress
I think Wayne Gretzky, a better than average hockey player, said it best when he said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take..” Confidence is what gets us to take those “shots” in life. Similarly, MBA students are taught that only business plans that are not executed are guaranteed to fail. When we are asked to take a risk confidence is what drives us to do so. Confidence is the enemy of Fear. When we are scared to take a step forward courage may be needed. However, when we are confident then fear never even occurs to us. What is a lack of confidence other than being afraid of failure?
He Who Hesitates is Lost
And that brings us to the good and bad of confidence. When we are sure of ourselves we act decisively. When we are unsure we hesitate and consider other options. This is where we see a secret of success. In order to get from point A to point B, the shortest path is a straight line. Also, we must move along the path. When we hesitate we either slow down our progress along the line or we veer off of it to consider other options. Thus, hesitation does not guarantee failure, but it does reduce the likelihood of success. Correspondingly, the more we doubt ourselves, the more we increase the risk of failure.
All of this does have a point. Leaders that yell, scream and generally instill fear are not going to be as effective as those that take a positive approach. When you next see someone stumbling offer a path to success rather than highlighting the failure. The trip from point A to B may be a “scenic route”, but when you can reset someone on a straight line to point B then you are showing them that success is possible and building that all important confidence. Do not stop with a simple “you can do it.” Explain how someone can do it and coach them to success.