Sunday, August 09, 2009


Throughout a myriad of experiences working with people of all ages (youth sports to high school students to adults) the one constant character deficiency lies with confidence. One would think this would make sense at a young age, but having and coaching young children (5-9) who often border on overconfident points to lack of confidence being a learned trait that falls somewhere between grade 9 and 12 (ages 13-19) and negatively reinforced thereafter.

This is not an attempt at blaming or pointing fingers in one direction or the other, however it is strange with the amount of money & resources directed at education, a core fundamental of human competency lags so far behind.

Confidence is a learned characteristic garnered from putting oneself in positions where outcomes & responses are unknown and experiencing a successful outcome. It must be an individual experience, meaning others shouldn’t interfere by bridging the gap of success or failure for the learner. If I had to put my finger on ‘a’ flaw in the system, it would be this. The ‘feel good’ bridge.

The 'feel good bridge' is usually dropped in good intention to accelerate the learner through periods of adversity and usher them safely to the other side. The intention is to preserve their esteem (from a potential failure), thus preserving their self-confidence. The reality is the learner a) knows they are not responsible for the decision-making or outcome and remains unconfident or b) develops a dependency on others to continually bridge uncomfortable gaps for them throughout their lives and ...remains unconfident.

Enabling & encouraging learners to take ownership and responsibility for their actions and decisions (inclusive of ‘good or bad’ outcomes) is essential for personal and professional growth. Instead of bridging feel good outcomes, those in positions of influence (parents, teachers, coaches, managers, leaders) need to articulate the benefits of both success and failure as developmental opportunities and support repeated attempts towards desired outcomes without simply providing them. It is during these processes, confidence is built. Translation: stop ‘doing’ things for others and let them do it for themselves.

For those reading who feel they may lack the confidence to do x, y or z, it’s as simple as ‘just doing it’ in many cases. Trying, in itself, is a great 1st step in the right direction because after the initial attempt (succeed or fail) valuable information gathered will put you in a better position to refine or repeat at a later date.

The only thing that is certain is if you continue to avoid situations of uncertainty, you will never develop the skill set needed to survive in a consistently uncertain world and eventually and inevitably… you will be exposed.

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