“Yeah, I know that Goliath fellow is big. But how’s he ever gonna reach the kid? Last I heard, Michelangelo was already taking measurements for a big statue he’s doin’ up in Florence…”
Confidence is what comes along after you have trained diligently and learned to perform flawlessly. A lot of people seem to think you can get confidence through some gimmick or mental technique.
“You just gotta have confidence in yourself,” they say. “You can do it.”
“Not if I can’t do it, I can’t.”
If your figure skating routine includes a maneuver that causes a spill half the time in practice, then you really don’t have a right to go into competition feeling confident that you can do it. Maybe you can, maybe you’ll be lucky. You can expect to be lucky about half the time and unlucky the other half, except that the added tension and pressure of competition will likely push those figures to 25 percent lucky and 75 percent unlucky. Gee, how unlucky that tension and pressure should do such a thing to a nice person like you.
You probably get my point. You can be confident that you will perform in competition about as well as you do in training, plus some for adrenaline, minus some for pressure. So there’s really no reason for having any more confidence than precisely what you should have. Your confidence level mirrors your skill level, and that’s as it should be. There’s nothing much more foolish than the confident chatter of a mediocre performer going into battle against a champion.
When David went out to meet Goliath, it wouldn’t have made much sense for him to assure everyone that everything was fine if he’d forgotten his rock and sling that day. But with his weapon, and in spite of the size difference, the smart money may have been on David all along. Anyone who watched him each day knock targets off fence posts at fifty yards probably had a pretty good feeling as they watched him walk out there.
You can picture the sideline whispers: “Yeah I know that Goliath fellow is big. But how’s he ever gonna reach the kid? Last I heard, Michelangelo was already taking measurements for a big statue he’s doin’ up in Florence. I’m tellin’ you, the kid can hurl a rock so hard he can knock the head off a horse without even entering the pasture. My money’s on the kid.”
Hopefully through the humor you catch the compelling point about confidence and its relation to ability. You deserve to be just as confident as your ability level warrants. And you don’t want to be more confident than that. The last thing you want to see is a rock- and sling-less David walking out there telling you everything’s gonna be just fine.
It’s not. If the ability isn’t there, the confidence is completely unwarranted.
Many parents have asked me over the years, “Can you help my son? All he lacks is confidence.” My reaction is always the same though I usually don’t say it out loud. “No, you’re wrong. Your son lacks ability.”
To summarize: Don’t strive for confidence, strive for ability, talent, technique. When the ability is there, the confidence will follow just the way it should.
—Excerpted from the book, “Think Like a Champion.”
THINK THE GAME
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