I have a theory. It might be way off:
Confidence is a tricky subject – one that shares a blurry line with arrogance. But confidence is not a set figure or a constant. It’s a variable; a spectrum. Everyone has some degree of it, whether restrictively low or irritatingly high. What then, gives us our confidence?
Confidence, I believe, is the accumulation of aspiration and ability.
The Aspiration Factor
Aspiration is what drives us to be better. If you aspire to be a guitarist enough, you will learn. You will find a way to, despite any obstacles The strength of your aspirations will dictate the lengths you are willing to go to get there. If you aspire to be a high-flying CEO, you will push yourself to try and get there. Aspiration provides the destination that declares your current position unacceptable. That’s not to say that we’ll always get there – very few of us will oversee huge corporations, but we’ll get further than we would without aiming for such heights.
Aspiration also gives us the confidence to test new waters and try new things in the name of progression. I remember when I first started learning the electric guitar. I wanted to be a rock star…but I was cripplingly shy. You know the kind of kids that would only speak when spoken to and hide behind their mummys? Yeah, I wasn’t far past that. But I aspired to be a musician and I knew that in order to get there, I’d have to play on stage in front of people at some point. The prospect terrified me. I remember my first ever ‘gig’ – my 14th birthday party. I’ll never forget the nerves during that first song; I was so gripped with fear than I couldn’t stop my right leg quivering. I was barely able to stand! It was purely my aspirations that got me to that point and I know that if they hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to be a musician today. Now I play on stage in front of much more people much more regularly and the nerves, the shaking, the butterflies and the breathlessness have all vanished. My aspirations aren’t quite the same as they used to be, but they guide me just as much. Having the confidence to preach a few weeks ago at Kerith was certainly not based on ability – it was purely down to my aspirations that happened to be strong enough in that instance to force me to overcome my fear.
The Ability Factor
Have you ever noticed that it’s often the really talented kids that are the most arrogant? Ability plays a huge part on confidence. Sticking with the previous analogies, if someone believes that they are good enough on guitar for people to hear them, they will want to play in front of others. If someone believes that they have the ability to go for that promotion that will take them closer to the CEO position they dream of, they will apply for it. It’s important to note that there’s a big difference between having confidence in your abilities and arrogance. Personally, I’m starting to believe that arrogance occurs when that person becomes unaware of their weaknesses or shortfalls but I’m open to suggestions on that one! I believe that this is also where experience comes into play. With each experience, our abilities grow and therefore our confidence increases. I have confidence in my abilities as an electric guitarist to get through a set now, whereas my confidence is drastically different if I’m singing or playing keyboard on stage. Likewise, there are certain meetings that I attend where my confidence is higher than others – particularly in areas where I trust my abilities enough. Some meetings leave me feeling totally out of my depth and my abilities can’t quite do the trick, leaving me a little nervous.
I believe that it’s the cumulative combination of aspiration and abilities that creates confidence. I’m currently of the belief that an increase of the two can eventually overcome issues like shyness, but am I oversimplifying it?
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Do you agree? Do you disagree? I’m very open to suggestions and would love a debate about it!