The Confidence Course
“Self-esteem should not be confused with self-confidence. Self Confidence is believing in your competence and your ability to do something, whereas self-esteem is believing in your goodness”
Competence…The Second Layer
The second layer of our Confidence Pyramid is the foundation of competence. Competence is considered the older, more durable home compared to its sister, the modern and contemporary home named Confidence. For many, just saying the word competence is rather bland and vanilla. Competence speaks to capabilities and demonstrating characteristics that improve your performance on the job. It is about knowledge and application of skills to complete a specific task. However, when you say the word confidence, you grab people’s attention. Confidence is exciting, dynamic and powerful. Confidence suggests that whatever roadblock comes its way, it can handle it and save the day! This comparison is similar to the classic movie Jaws, when the mayor of the town was addressing Sheriff Brodie about when people yell for help in the water. When people say: “barracuda”, people turn around and say …huh,….what? But when you yell “shark” you get an entirely different reaction! You create panic and bloodcurdling screams”!
To me, this is a classic example of the Chicken and the Egg story. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? I’m no “eggspert” but I know one thing for sure, If you do not have the physical and psychological capabilities to perform skills or activities, you will not be confident for very long. Competence for me comes long before the true feelings of confidence suggesting that I can do something. For many people, they believe that confidence stands alone on its own merits. I feel that people forget that if you do not possess competence in your ability to do something, your confidence in that ability dissolves quite quickly. When they speak of possessing high levels of self-confidence, they forget that they are also speaking to a level of demonstrating physical and psychological mastery within their craft, skill or talent that has probably taken years to nurture and perfect. But they would be incorrect.
As I was stating earlier in the book, I had assumed that I could snow ski rather well without having any formal training or at the very least, a primer on how to maneuver my skis down the slope! Much to my avail, my ignorance, curiosity and arrogance led me to having several bouts of planting my face in the side of a mountain that really didn’t care if I felt confident about my abilities or not! And that is the reality of competence. Competence is addressing the real issues of capability, applied knowledge, and certitude of purpose. I didn’t have training or experience to ski well in my novel attempt down the mountain, but my ego and vanity deluded me into thinking that I could do it! Therefore, without the proper knowledge, education and practical experience to ski, I took a beating through the school of hard knocks to eventually learn that I wasn’t competent at the time to adequately ski well.
Even when we take pieces of Dr. Albert Bandura’s self-efficacy definition we can find the value of competence within that definition.
“Self-efficacy is defined as the strength of one’s conviction that one can successfully execute a given behavior at a specific point in time to produce a desired result”. (Bandura, 1977)
Within Bandura’s definition we find sections that point specifically to competence. “That one can successfully execute a given behavior” is a specific piece of demonstrating physical and psychological competence of performing a task. The key ingredients of that statement suggest that in order to become efficacious, one must be able to perform a given behavior successfully. Without being successful in your behaviors, you will not be able to sustain that level of belief.
Even within my new definition of confidence that I presented in Section 1 of the book, I describe the capacity for executing successfully as well.
“coupled with the belief that one can and will do something to produce a positive and successful result”. (Winters, 2019)
Within that small section, I integrate the belief that one can do somethingand willfully do somethingto produce a positive and successful result. The key here is to understand something quite basic: Competence is the result of training, experiences, feedback, execution and the pursuit of striving for continual improvement! Without any of these, competency will not be achieved.
Also remember, that in striving to develop competency in any endeavor, you will fail many more times than you will succeed! But that is where persistence and patience come into play into developing your competence and overall self-confidence because if you cannot stretch yourself to fail in order to eventually succeed, you won’t go very far. I love what Coach Rick Pitino said about failing: “Failure is the fertilizer for future success”. Thus, striving to develop your competency every day is a wonderful way to strengthen your experience base for confidence. The following is a movement competence and movement confidence diagram that illustrates the interaction of making a movement based on the pre-planning template that a person has in their head before they execute the movement and during and after the physical movement. What this shows is that there is an ongoing evaluation about your movement based on what one has rehearsed, performed and the feedback as to the effectiveness of the motion.
Movement Competence / Confidence Cycle
As in any physical or psychological endeavor, there will be a planning stage, a performance stage and a feedback and evaluation phase. The planning stage is where you make decisions about what it is that you want to do with your performance or skill. You take the time then to rehearse and devote yourself to the acquisition of perfecting a skill movement or a presentation so that it can be overlearned to the point of automaticity and comfortability. Then when you are executing your movement and executing your strategy, (as you are doing your skill or presenting), there will always be an amount of performance feedback that will accompany what you just did.
This is where the critique of your performance matches whether or not you did what you intended to do or not. If yes, then you have reinforced your behavior and thought pattern. If you did not or there was some discrepancy in your execution, you take that information and learn from it and make corrections. This is the cycle of performance and it doesn’t really matter if it is of a physical nature as in an athletic movement or giving a presentation to a group of business colleagues. The cycle of competence and confidence is roughly the same. The feedback you receive is the information that you can analyze and evaluate to make corrections and improvements in your next performance. This is where skill competency is learned via trial and error and experimentation. Remember, competency is an earned quality that comes about through practice, repetition and exposure. It is from this level of competence that builds feelings of confidence! The following pages are exercises you can use to improve your competence. Devote yourself to the following exercises and monitor your feelings and results over a month and notice how much more competent and capable you are becoming in whatever endeavor you choose to participate!
Competence…..The 2ndLayer of Confidence…..
Exercises to Build Competence!
Exercise # 1. Make a list of your present skills or competencies. List every area that you actually do in your job or skill. View this as your skills page. Create a grading level of what your strong points or dominant attributes are and grade them accordingly. Also, list your weak areas or your items for immediate improvement. Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link! Therefore, you should strive to make every weak area stronger. You don’t have to do this overnight, but if you can start with one thing per week, you will see wonderful changes within a month.
I have provided an example of how I measure a golfer in relation to their self-reported ability at a specific point in time in relation to their golf skill. As you can see, it starts with a specific date and beginning point and is also on a grading scale of A through F. I have also listed each club or area of golfing performance so that nothing is left out of a player’s inventory. As you can see, I give A an Excellent rating, B = Good, and improving C means an Average Focus, there is improvement Needed, D is a grade for an area that needs to be addressed and worked up and F means that this is a trouble area and immediate attention is devoted to that area. By doing this type of self-evaluation, it will show you immediately what you need to work on to bring it up to speed with your dominant and strong attributes.
Competency Self-Report (Example)
Self – Assessment (Physical Competency) Golf Evaluation
A = Excellent B = Good, improving C = Average Focus, Improvement Needed, D = Area for Strong Revue F = Immediate Work and Focus Strongly Needed
Date: ___________ Golfer/Athlete: ______________________
Issues and Grades for Most Current Performance:
3 Wood or 4 Wood off tee _____
3 Wood or 4 Wood off fairway _____
Hybrid or Utility Club off Tee _____
Hybrid or Utility Club off Fairway or Rough _____
Long Irons ( 2 -4 iron) _____
Mid Irons (5-7) _____
Short Irons 8 – 9 – wedge _____
Pitching Wedge _____
Gap Wedge _____
Lob Wedge _____
Putting (overall skill) _____
Putting (long putts) _____
Putting ( short putts 6’ or less) _____
Sand Play _____
Trouble Shots and Recovery _____
The idea of this type of self-report is to make you aware of your strong and weak areas. It’s only human nature to want to practice or do what you already consider a strength, but it’s an important item to remedy if that one skill or attribute isn’t as strong or dependable as you need it to be. You can use this type of self-assessment in any sport activity, skill trade or even a business model. The grading system is simple and easy to use. The point of all of this is that you become aware of your blind spots and then take the steps necessary to correct them and make them stronger!
Exercise # 2 Now that you have learned a bit about how competence affects confidence, it is a good idea to view yourself from not only your perspective, but from the perspective of others that you trust and will be honest with you. This is where we need to seek objective and fair feedback from others. This exercise requests that you find someone that you know and trust that will be honest and forthcoming with you. What you are really looking for here is a person who is well-versed in your business, sport or situation to point out not only your strengths, but to help you find your blind spots and how you may be missing them. It is very important for you to understand that no one really likes feedback about themselves that doesn’t sound that complimentary. But in order to grow and develop into something bigger than we are, we have to open our thoughts and ears to hearing what needs to be heard. This is not a “YES MAN” type of exercise where you are told things that you want to hear. This exercise is about you seeking the wisdom of someone that knows you and your skill set that will provide information that you need to hear! This is so different than having yourself a personal cheerleader (there will be time enough for that later).
What you should be asking them are basic and direct questions about your skill level and what you can do and should do to improve. Within this exercise, it is always about you feeling comfortable. If there is too much information or that you find it a bit too overwhelming, table the discussion for a while and work on the suggestions one at a time. Baby steps are good at this time. Take one strength comment and work on it until you feel comfortable that you have mastered that aspect. I always like to remember this thought: Even when we look into the mirror, we still don’t see the real “you” that others see. Get yourself a mentor and start to listen to some feedback about how you can improve. But, in the end, it is still about how you feel about you. You can grow in competence, one step and thought at a time!
Exercise #3 Practicing the Weakness
Now that you may have uncovered some weak or blind spots in your skill or performance, it is now time to work on correcting and improving those aspects. For example, if I am working with a basketball player who is a great shooter and has adequate foot speed but doesn’t possess the ball handling skills that will be required for him to move and get the open shot, then we need to work on his ball handling and dribbling skills. Taking a good look at any weak segment of your performance or speaking delivery and then practicing specific ways to improve that area is a great way to develop competency in that domain.
On a personal note, I used to use verbal commas in my speaking such as “um” and “you know” to make the transitions from one thought to another. I had to work consciously very hard to interrupt myself and remind myself to flow and connect my thoughts so that they would be fluid and continuous in my speaking pattern. But the important part for you to know is that I had to practice this weakness until it became a non-issue and now my speaking skills are regarded as a strength. The critical issue here is that you have to practice your weakness and turn it into a strength. As I have stated before, you are only as strong as your weakest link, because in performance pressure situations, your weaknesses will always show up. Develop mastery through practicing the weak areas of your life and skill sets. You may not like doing it but it will be well worth the benefits down the road.
Exercise 4 Creating Dress Rehearsals in Every Phase of your life!
If you have ever been to a Broadway play, you have to appreciate all of the hard work that the stage hands, stage managers, lighting technicians, producers, directors, musicians and most notably the actors have put in to create a flawless production each and every night. But their great performances aren’t just happening by chance. Everyone has worked diligently for days, weeks, months and perhaps years to create a seamless performance for that one or two hour play! Prior to their going out in front of a live audience, they rehearse endless hours and then they have a final rehearsal that we know as dress rehearsal. Dress rehearsal is full makeup and costume and everything is set. The only thing that is missing is the audience.
I happen to believe that is what every performer, business person, student or musician must have as well in order to play or work as great as their talent can allow. Therefore, this exercise is to have you commit to the idea that whatever your field of endeavor, make sure that you go through a dress rehearsal prior to your big event. If you are a student and getting ready for a big examination, make sure that you have already taken many “simulation tests” to get your mind moving in the test taking process mode. If you are a speaker, then get yourself to the podium the night before your big presentation and present to the imaginary audience. Familiarization is the key in every one of these situations. Expose yourself to what you will be eventually facing. As in Top Gun Flight School or Red Flag Military flight training, simulation training for a fighter pilot is essential for anticipating what may or may not happen in life-threatening events. Simulating the situation as many times as possible before your real experience will help you become comfortable in that arena, no matter what arena that may happen to be.
Again, competence is mastery of your skill or domain. Creating experience via your dress rehearsals will be a good way of moving in that direction. Try this in every aspect of your life and see how it can make a huge difference in the way you feel and present yourself!