25 Mar The “Con” of Confidence

Why do we believe confidence is so important?  Most of us have been conditioned to believe that confidence enables us to succeed.

I was surprised to find that confidence doesn’t always tip the balance to success.  Research shows that confidence in our intelligence is a good predictor of achievement, when we are not facing difficulties.  However, confidence is a less reliable predictor, in difficult situations.

According to Carol Dweck, the confidence we bring into a situation doesn’t necessarily help us when we face challenges or difficulties.

People with a fixed mindset (focused on proving their abilities) who have high confidence in their abilities going into a situation, tend to lose confidence when faced with challenge or failure.  Seeing someone else’s success also undermines their confidence.  As Dweck points out, for these folks staying confident is a constant battle.

People with a growth mindset  (focused on developing their abilities) who have low confidence in their intelligence going into a situation, tend to embrace hurdles and challenges.  They don’t need huge levels of confidence to start learning, growing and developing.  They learn from failures, adjust their strategies and improve over time.

As Dweck points out, the confidence you bring into a situation is not as important as the ability to persevere and maintain a non-defensive position in the face of set backs.

What I have taken from this research is the importance of embracing challenging situations (even in the face of fear) and having confidence that we can learn from these situations through effort and perseverance.

For example, starting this blog wasn’t easy for me.  It was intimidating to put my name and ideas out publicly in this way.  Yet, I know that for all the effort it has taken to get myself here, writing each blog posting feeds my soul.

Dweck’s call to action: “Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but were afraid you weren’t good at? Make a plan to do it.”

 

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