Thoughts on Confidence and How To Teach It

Each and every one of us struggles with confidence issues. You can bet your bottom dollar, that can be said about just about everyone that has ever drawn breath on this great green and blue globe of ours. That the billions, and may I even say trillions of us that have inhabited this earth have not been sure of themselves a time or two in our lives.

Now, I want to separate out Confidence away from Self-Esteem or Self-Worth issues at this point. It is a surety that if one has low self-esteem, their confidence is low as well. But Self-Esteem doesn’t have a direct correlation with Confidence. You can, not think highly of yourself and still have the confidence of doing a task, or performing a skill… you’ll just think you suck at doing it. I know that we may be splitting hairs here, but I have given it a great amount of thought. Confidence is truly independent of Self-Esteem, however, one (Confidence or Self-Esteem) high or low, can have an impact on the other. With that being said, the same things that can build Confidence can also be used to build one’s self-esteem.

Competence has a direct correlation with Confidence

There is a closer link that is had on the subject of Confidence, and that is Competence. If one has developed the competence in a skill, or a talent, or a set of actions they want to take, their level of confidence in doing so is equally as elevated as their competence level. As you practice the desired skill of any sort, your confidence in doing it to a successful conclusion also rises. (It is here where the level of one’s self-esteem allows them to keep that confidence or not).

It is in the doing, the experiencing, in the practicing that one builds Confidence. Doubt, uncertainty, and fear come from the unknown, and once it has been done, or experienced there should be none of that left (Unless the Self-Esteem issues get in the way). When you seek out for yourself and later for those to who you are looking to teach Confidence to, you need to look for those opportunities to gain the experience and practice doing the task/skill/talent.

Case in point, a while back I had a client of mine that rented out Harley Davidson motorcycles. I hadn’t grown up around anyone that rode them, or raced them, or maintained them at any time. Totally a foreign concept to me. An exciting opportunity for an adventure opened up to me in taking several of the hogs down to Moab and do marketing and sales down south in the bike rider’s “Mecca”. The only requirement they had for me was that I learn to ride a motorcycle and get my motorcycle license. I hadn’t been on two wheels since I was wearing jersey midriffs and sporting Ocean Pacific corduroy shorts, which was the fad in the mid-80s and had the body for it.

This was 2001, quite a bit of time had elapsed since those OP days. But I wanted this adventure for me and my family. I borrowed a puny Buell (around 150cc’s) and went into their back parking lot to practice. I truly sucked at first, dumped the bike many times, missed quite a few gear switches, and even ran into a few fences that I had to extricate my legs and the bike from. That notwithstanding, I emerged after several hours with a level of confidence of riding with the increasing competence to handle the bike, so much so that handling a Road King with a touring package on it (the biggest, baddest, and heaviest motorcycle that Harley Davidson had in their lineup at the time) a few weeks later was a breeze.

I never would have had that amazing adventure, if I never had the opportunity. We need to give ourselves, and in direct relation, those who we want to teach Self Reliance to, the opportunities to develop that confidence. We need to look for those things in which they want to pursue and then encourage them to find the opportunity for themselves in accomplishing them. Give them the tools they need to do them, places to experience them, times to practice them.

Be as hands-off as you can. Maybe not at first as the first steps are taken, but as you couldn’t learn how to walk for them, you can’t learn this action, skill or talent and have them the competence or the confidence to perform it later. They have to do it on their own.

The Freaks of Nature

Now there are those who have all the confidence in the world and do things and still don’t gain any competence in the skill. There are those who may be naive and think it takes just a little bit of effort for a powerful skill to develop quickly(that only happens for a select few that are naturally adept at the tasks – Think Michael Jordan). Or those who are trying to mistakenly work on their self-esteem at facing the confidence bravado with nothing to back it up.

And then there are those virtuosos or those Dolly Partons or Leonardo da Vincis that seem to have been born with the skills and the competence and confidence in spades. Those types are gems and examples to look to, but for most of us… the adage is Practice makes Permanent.

How to Teach Confidence

Succinctly put, it is in the doing, the experiencing, and the practicing. It is giving them the encouragement, the avenue, the opportunity to gain competence in that in which interests them the most and that can be of use to them in the future.

As you are able, provide them the insight (at the very least) or the opportunity (at the most) to become competent in something they choose for themselves. If the desire is small, it will go to the wayside. If it is strong enough, if their drive is deep enough, if they want it bad enough they will find a way. Get out of their way as they show the want and desire of that which fuels their souls.

“What if they want to be the best Drug Kingpin or Conman or Fraudster they can be?” Well, then you have other issues you need to deal with first before building their confidence up in what they desire to do. But unless your kids want to be the next El Chapo… I say encourage away and see what adventures you and they can have.

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