It makes a difference.
Main Entry: con·fi·dence
Date: 14th century
1 a : a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances b : faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way
2 : the quality or state of being certain : certitude
3 a : a relation of trust or intimacy b : reliance on another’s discretion c : support especially in a legislative body
4 : a communication made in confidence : secret
Synonyms: confidence, assurance, self-possession, aplomb… a state of mind or a manner marked by easy coolness and freedom from uncertainty, diffidence, or embarrassment. Confidence stresses faith in oneself and one’s powers without any suggestion of conceit or arrogance . Assurance carries a stronger implication of certainty and may suggest arrogance or lack of objectivity in assessing one’s own powers . Self-possession implies an ease or coolness under stress that reflects perfect self-control and command of one’s powers . Aplomb implies a manifest self-possession in trying or challenging situations .
Last night while painting I was thinking about how much our attitude impacts outcomes. For example, I paint some of my best work when I am feeling confidence as explained in the first definition, “a feeling of consciousness of one’s powers.” I have noticed, however, that the more I like a piece as it nears completion, sometimes anxiety creeps in and paralyzes me. I fear wrecking something good, marring it beyond repair.
Perhaps this same thing happens in relationships. In a normal healthy relationship, we are ourselves, natural and acting freely, valuing the other. In contrast, the more desperate our own neediness, when there is too much at stake if the relationship fails, whether with a person or employer, this feeling erodes our confidence and paralyzes us.
I once had an older friend (now gone) who was a real estate salesman in the late Sixties. He shared a story with me that encapsulates this very thought. He had been quite successful at selling homes until something changed. The late Sixties saw an influx of housewives entering the real estate business as one income families morphed into two income families. Many of these women were very good salespeople in part because they were simply charming, and were having fun. Their breadwinner husbands, who worked as bankers, accountants or other occupations with steady cash flow, ensured that whether their wives were successful or not the bills would be paid. Because my friend was a sole breadwinner, wen he failed to close a deal it was food for his family that was being taken off the table. What had been easy for him at one time was increasingly stressful. Home buyers sensed his anxiety and became uncomfortable around him. He ultimately had to leave the business.
Earlier this year a documentary about boxer Mike Tyson showed how he always entered the ring with total confidence. As soon as he saw his opponent he would lock eyes, even before the introductions, and search the man’s face for any sign of weakness or fear. As soon as he caught even the slightest hint of fear, his adrenalin would surge.
Time does not permit me to elaborate on the Consumer Confidence Index, youthful idealism, Napoleon, the application of confidence to the theory of “any given Sunday”, or the value of confidence in mental health. Sometimes the basis of our confidence may even be unfounded (cf. The Dunning-Kruger Effect), but unless it is present we’ll be left immobilized, whether in business, sports or life.
Originally published at pioneerproductions.blogspot.com
Paintings by the author. “Innocence” (top) and “Man with a Heart on the Wrong Side of his Chest.”