Last week I talked about optimism, and I also discussed confidence back in April. It turns out that both optimism and pessimism become self reinforcing, self-fulfilling, with the thought processes determining actual real outcomes in our lives. But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve been thinking how much being or not being confident also becomes self-fulfilling. Over the past year I went through a recovery program that included taking a detailed personal inventory. The inventory went back to my earliest childhood memories and identified various issues, along with the actions of others that harmed me in some way, and my parts in those issues and how I had offended others.
The issues first identified form a body of what we tend to think of as our “problems” in life. But by doing a detailed inventory of all the issues you can remember throughout life, then looking for patterns, you can identify character defects and the real issues that are in fact the source of what appear to be your problems. For example, a lot of the character defects and problems I could identify were in fact due to issues I had with a low self esteem and lack of self confidence. In my case, there were many occasions when something negative could seemingly be blamed on the actions of others, and it would appear on the surface not to involve any guilt on my part. But indeed, I could see that with more self confidence and less of a concern for everyone to hopefully like me, regardless of their true importance to me and my life, I might not have been involved in so many negative events.
As far as more recent events go, both my wife and myself have recently noticed how in our work, a lack of confidence leads to hesitation in making decisions and a fear of making mistakes. Yet that fear and hesitation lead to negative impacts that reinforce the problem and lead to a further overall decline in both happiness and effectiveness. One characteristic of a good manager is the ability to quickly get needed input and make a decision. Often, even a bad decision is better than wavering back and forth in doubt. And an overwhelming fear of making mistakes often leads to making mistakes you would not make without the worry, but in turn increase the fear and worry when you do make a mistake, which leads to more errors.
Hopefully you can agree with me that not only is being optimistic self-reinforcing, but so is being confident in yourself. Even if you don’t agree, why not give it a try? What have you got to lose? Think of something specific you have doubted about yourself, and look for ways to reinforce the contrary viewpoint. Examine your strengths and past successes in that area, objectively.