Article by: Martha Amaro
Go to school.Get good grades.Get into a good college.Find a good job.Then, you’ll have a good life.Sound familiar?
This is the well-intentioned advice most of us received from our parents, teachers, and mentors. And, they really meant well.
They truly thought that if we did these things we would, in fact, have a good life!
If we’re honest, they were right! Following this formula WILL typically lead to a “good” life!
The problem is that in most instances, good is synonymous with average!
If you want an average life, relationships, and career, you can stop reading right now. I don’t really have anything new to offer.
On the other hand, if you’re tired of average, if you KNOW there’s more to you and your life than leading an average existence, then read on.
I am about to share with you some other well-intentioned advice we’ve been given that might actually be keeping you stuck and unable to rise above a certain plateau.
“You can do anything if you have enough confidence.”
“The level of success you achieve is determined by how confident you are.”
“If you can be more confident, then you can surpass any obstacle.”
Have you heard these sage words before?
If you’ve ever tried anything new, ventured into uncharted territory, or tried anything outside of your comfort zone, chances are you’ve heard some form of this type of advice. And, truthfully, you’ve probably told yourself or others something similar at some point.
The problem is that most of us misunderstand what confidence really is! I could speak on this subject for days (and, believe me, I have!) Gurus, experts, and leaders throw around the word “confidence” as if it were this magic pill that will cure all your mindset and productivity issues.
While I don’t have time to go into detail here, for the purposes of this conversation, let’s get clear on two things.
First, NOBODY is confident all the time. But, EVERYBODY is confident some of the time.
See, the thing is that confidence is NOT a character trait or a personality marker. Confidence is what we experience when we have sufficient CERTAINTY about the task at hand.
Let me ask you this, how confident are you that you can tie your shoes? How confident are you that you can read the words on this page? How confident are you that you can pour yourself a cup of water?
I’m willing to bet your answer to all those questions (barring any limiting impairment) was that you feel VERY confident.
Now, if I asked you how confident you are that you can find the cure to cancer, that would be an entirely different response.
Why? Because what we typically refer to as “confidence” is really a measure of how certain we are in our ability to perform a specific task or complete a specific goal.
Second, we often confuse self-assurance with confidence, and erroneously believe that the person that walks tall and composed with a spring in their step is the epitome of confidence. I am willing to bet that even the most seemingly “confident” person has moments of self-doubt, fear, and confusion.
Instead of comparing yourself to others and trying to be as “confident” as they seem, a much better use of your time and energy would be to determine what skills or abilities you need in order to effectively perform the task at hand and work on building your COMPETENCE in those skills.
The more competent you become at the skills needed for the task or goal you’re trying to complete, the more confident you will feel and appear.
“She has great potential. She just lacks the motivation to reach it.”
When I was a teacher, I heard this kind of remark ALL the time (honestly, I was guilty of saying them from time to time myself.)
The problem with this is that we tend to treat motivation as an all-or-nothing type of experience. You’re either motivated or you’re not.
But, HOW on earth do you become motivated?
Can we be externally motivated? If so, for how long?
Is it possible to complete important tasks even without the necessary motivation or are we doomed to fail unless motivation decides to grace us with her presence?
While experiencing motivation, especially the intrinsic kind, is a great way to push through and stay the course, I have found in my experience and in working with my clients and former students, that there is something even more powerful: COMMITMENT.
When one is fully committed to the end result, when once a decision has been made we leave no backdoor open and no room for a plan B, when we have burned the boats and cut away all other possibilities, then we will most certainly reach the destination.
Ultimately, motivation can be overpowered by commitment and decision! The determined person will outperform the one that requires motivation to perform.
Now, habits and integrity play a role in this, but that’s a conversation for another time 🙂
More often than not we equate success with crossing a finish line, or reaching a summit.
In fact, most of us are so conditioned to seeing success as a destination, that we see failure as the opposite of success.
For most of us, success means that we have reached a specific goal or have attained a desired outcome.
There are 2 main problems with this view:
First, it delays any sense of accomplishment or growth until we have “arrived”.
A lot of the people I work with have a hard time celebrating ANY level of growth or accomplishment. It’s almost like they think that once they celebrate it’s over and they won’t continue to move forward towards their goal.
When we understand that success is a progression or continuum, that it has no beginning and no end, that it is simply movement in the right direction, THEN we can celebrate and acknowledge all the little milestones we reach along the way.
I believe it was Earl Nightingale who said: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”
This means that as long as you’re moving in the direction of your dreams, you are, in fact, successful!
Second, it ignores that failure is PART of success NOT its opposite. In fact, it is a REQUIREMENT for success.
It is well-known that we learn more from mistakes than from getting things right.
Without “failure” how can we even recognize success!
If there is learning, growth, new understanding, or any type of advancement, then failure is an integral part of continuing our trajectory in the continuum of success.
Confidence, Motivation, and Success are NOT these elusive somethings we’ve been taught to reach for.
None of these powerful components of an integrated life are found in the achieving. They are found in the DOING!
Go, take action!
It is only in the implementation, the living, and the trying that we become the person we dream of seeing in the mirror.
So, get to it!