Confidence is an important tool for making the things you desire in life to come about. The Olympic athlete, master craftsman, or mountain climber start endeavors with the expectation of success. A big reason for this is that they are confident in their skills. Brittney Griner can relax at the free throw line, Dave Chappelle doesn’t need to be petrified to test new material on an audience, and Seth Godin doesn’t have to fear whether the book he’s writing is going to be good. They all work on their craft and that provides them a base level of confidence.
A big part of developing mastery at anything involves learning new skills and developing confidence in your ability to practice them. That’s a critical element of the success equation.
The reason Anthony Rendon can be standing in the batter’s box with bases loaded during a World Series game – and to all outside observers look as though he’s trying to decide which bunch of organic celery to choose at Whole Foods Market – is because he has so much confidence in his skills that he doesn’t let the moment become bigger than him. Michelangelo might not have known exactly what was locked inside that block of stone, but he had no need to fear it, because it wasn’t the first time he picked up a chisel.
Confidence is a tool; one you can develop. It’s the gift that keeps on giving – each level of confidence building upon the last and pulling you toward the next. While confidence as a success tool cannot be overstated, there is a more important one…
Because there was a time when Griner was taking her first free throw in a game, Chappelle was doing his first live gig, and Seth was staring at that pulsing cursor for the first time.
Just as you will be facing down fears for the first time…
The thing about facing fear is it isn’t a one-time thing, unless you’re content with living a predictable life of mediocrity. If I only attempted the things I was qualified to do, I’d still be washing dishes at the Pancake House. Think about that. Then think about where you would be, if you have stopped at the level you were qualified for.
A life of meaning is a life of growth. And growth can’t happen without fear. A life of meaning is one that involves facing down fear after fear, in an ever-continuing process. It starts with things like taking your first steps or removing the training wheels from your bike, and graduates to things like having the courage to tell someone you love them or carrying on after they're taken from you.
His holiness the Dalai Lama once said that the more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and freer your actions will be. This holds true in the context of self-love: loving yourself enough to know you deserve to live a life of prosperity, then having the courage to make the sometimes-difficult choices required to manifest that life.
Hard choices create easier lives. And many times, the hard choices are finding that five or ten seconds of courage to attempt something for the first time. The greatest achievers, the elite performers, and the people who manifest lives of unbounded prosperity don’t spend their lives trying not to be fearful. Just the opposite. They seek out new fears and build their courage as you would any other muscle. Most of them don’t really have more fear than the average person, they’ve just got it five or ten seconds longer. They’ve learned that most of the time, having that five or ten seconds of courage to face the fear, takes them to the other side. Where fear ends and confidence begins.
Comfortable or courageous are both choices. Choose wisely.
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