If confidence was actually real, there would be a way of measuring it.
There would be a sure fire recipe for it – something which people could brew up for every difficult or scary situation they were facing.
And you’d be able to buy it from the supermarket –
Imagine if confidence was a body cream you could slather all over, or hidden in the ingredients of a chocolate cake, or in a can of fizzy drink.
If someone invented these products, they’d be a billionaire overnight.
Such is the demand for “more confidence”.
Or maybe what people really mean when they wish for “more confidence” is actually “less anxiety”.
Or more certainty of a positive outcome.
But here’s an important truth.
Even people who have been performing or public speaking for years still claim to be nervous. The butterflies and the adrenalin can still surge.
But the likelihood is the more often someone has stood on that stage, handled big audiences, or done any particular thing regularly and consistently enough, they gain coping skills as well as skills in the thing itself.
The more success they have experienced, the less anxiety they feel. The more they believe in their own ability to succeed in all things.
I believe confidence – if it exists at all – is a result of a simple equation:
Competence + Courage.
By gaining competence at the skill you are aspiring to master, and being courageous enough to take risks with it, the less anxiety or fear you are likely to feel around developing and executing the skill.
And here’s the other truth:
No learning or skill acquisition or transformation can happen without risk.
Without putting yourself out there.
The more competence you gain, the more comfortable you get with taking risks so you start to take bigger, more courageous ones.
You get more curious and playful, you experiment, you push the boundaries.
You need less external validation.
You take more responsibility for yourself.
Your desire to improve and the fun you experience on that quest start to outweigh the fear and anxiety.
You even start to enjoy the feeling of stepping into the unknown as you realise that’s where accomplishment and achievement actually live.
But also, confidence will come from experiencing unsuccessful outcomes and realising that nothing bad will happen.
The world won’t end and no one will die.
You chalk it up to experience. Learn from it and move on.
The trick with this is one of managing the stories and meanings you attach to these situations. A certain amount of reframing may be necessary.
In terms of Salsa many people survive on the dance floor because they play the game of low competence + low risk.
They do the same few moves and combos in the same way with the same group of people. It’s a safe bet.
Far fewer people push beyond that small pond
But for those who want to play a more exciting game of seeing just how far and fast they can progress, stop seeing confidence as the limiting factor and work more on gaining competence.