Contributor: “Dr. J”
Dr. J offers his irreverent, slightly irrelevant, but possibly useful opinions on health and fitness. A Florida surgeon and fitness freak with a black belt in karate, he runs 50 miles a week and flies a Cherokee Arrow 200.
In his treatise on the strategy of confrontation and victory “The Book of Five Rings,” the famous Japanese samurai Miyamoto Musashi carved his place in literature with the quote, “Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things.”
Simply stated, this means that once you find your path to success in anything, success can come easier to you in all things. You have learned and understand what you must do: the mindset, the discipline, the effort and the focus that you must apply to reach your goal. Some goals may be more or less difficult or pleasurable for you, but you still know what it takes to get there. Whether you are willing to do what it takes, of course, is another thing altogether.
Self confidence is gained primarily from actual experiences. A past success or achievement gives us confidence that we can achieve it again or do something similar.
Because we have this history of success, it becomes easier for us to take that important first step in other challenges.
The result is that we become part of a positive cycle where the more success we experience the more confident we become and so on. This is why confident people become more and more confident and successful.
Most people have succeeded in something. When faced with a new challenge in a different area, don’t say that you can’t do it or that you are trying to do it if you have not succeeded, because you already know the type of effort and discipline that success requires. Just honestly say that you don’t want to do it, and move along rather than continue to confront yourself with something you really have no desire for. Your desire not to do it is possibly more important to you for whatever gain you get out of that decision.
I do not think doing something like skydiving where we are hanging from the actual skydiver or something like fire-walking will build sustainable self-confidence. Now if you took up skydiving as a hobby and did many solo jumps, that’s a different story, but I do not think building self-confidence needs to be accomplished by something to that extreme. Think of how it was when you were growing up. Doing your chores for the family, getting that first job mowing the neighbor’s lawn, delivering papers or doing other entry-level jobs gave you the confidence to tackle more difficult positions as you grew. Perhaps you learned to play a musical instrument. You worked diligently and consistently toward the goal. It’s the same with building self-confidence. Small steps as you acquired skills led to your accomplishment and built your self-confidence.
This must be applied to whatever you are facing now. Small steps toward the goal. Taking chances in an area where we already have self-confidence does not build self-confidence. We take the chances because of our self-confidence. For example, I am an artist. I have entered many art shows. I have been rejected several times. I will still enter a show because I have confidence in my art, all the while continuing to do it and working to improve it, regardless of being rejected. I don’t build my confidence by entering shows, I build it by doing the art.
If possible, we should attempt to do something in another area from the area we have already succeeded to increase and sustain our self-confidence because it seems the yield becomes smaller over time from an area we have already mastered. An example for me was learning to punch the speed bag a couple of years ago. At first I didn’t think I could ever learn it, but with practice, now I teach others to do it.
Unfortunately, failure in our experiences can cause our self-confidence to shrink. Failure happens to everyone who attempts challenging things. Even with failure, although we can’t always control what happens, we have the power to control our interpretation of what happens. When I first heard the story of Thomas Edison’s 10,000 failures to invent the light bulb, my first thought was that he never really failed, he just invented 9,999 poorly functioning light bulbs!
Though we all experience “failures,” we have the option of looking at these experiences as bringing needed valuable lessons into our lives, giving us the chance to improve our skills and knowledge, and which will ultimately bring us closer to success.
I had an interesting experience in my first karate tournament. Simply put, I lost my first fight and was out of the tournament. That might seem like a confidence-crusher, but I had a different perspective. From my point of view, I lost because I kicked my opponent on the side of his head, which required disqualification according to the tournament rules because we did not wear any protective equipment. Strikes that contacted the body were permitted, but not to the face and head. Interestingly, my teacher fought the same fighter in the next round and knocked him out with a punch to the face, disqualifying my teacher, and that “winning” fighter went on to win the tournament!
I had the perspective that neither of us really lost because we showed superior martial arts skills, albeit not the best control, and we deserved the disqualifications.
The following year, in the same tournament, my teacher and I finished in first and second place. We worked on our control; we already had the self-confidence!
In Part 1, we learned the principles of how to build and sustain our self-confidence. In Part Two, we learned that if we have had prior successes in building our expertise in other areas, we can do it in future areas using the same methods that worked for us before.
It is still our life and our choice!
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