Confidence is a Choice, not a Symptom

from Seth’s Blog

The batter has already hit two home runs. When he gets up to bat for the third time, his confidence is running high…

It’s easy to feel confident when we’re on a roll, when the cards are going our way, or we’re closing sales right and left. This symptomatic confidence, one built on a recent series of successes, isn’t particularly difficult to accomplish or useful.

Effective confidence comes from within, it’s not the result of external events. The confident salesperson is likely to close more sales. The confident violinist expresses more of the music. The confident leader points us to the places we want (and need) to go.

You succeed because you’ve chosen to be confident. It’s not really useful to require yourself to be successful before you’re able to become confident.

More here.

9 Responses to Confidence is a Choice, not a Symptom

  1. Gwyn Haertel February 24, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    The blog “Confidence is a choice, not a symptom”, is one that resonated with me as a reader. Confidence is a quality that allows us dream, strive, and achieve. It allows us to dream of the person we wish to one day become. It helps us strive to be the best we can possibly be. It also helps give us the ability to achieve our dreams and the goals we strive for. When we are confident, we feel better about ourselves, and therefore, we push ourselves. There are many factors that influence our confidence levels; however, it is an internal battle whether or not we choose to believe in ourselves.
    A personal example of how confidence is a key factor to success took place during my high school soccer career. At the beginning of our season, we started out strongly. Win after win, we were sure to be making it to final this season. Mid season, many of our best players were suspended from playing the field. This was devastating to everyone and it shook our confidence levels. Quickly, we began to lose games. Eventually, my coach sat us down to talk to us as a team. He told us that we are only as good at the game as we think we are. If we come together and support each other as a united team, we will feel like we can win without our best players, and we will be more likely to succeed. He pulled each player aside and assured us that we are each strong and smart players. This boosted our confidence both individually and as a team. After this speech, we began playing better, we were more focused, and we were back on our winning streak. This clearly illustrates how confidence contributes to success.
    When asked at the end of the season at our annual awards ceremony what the difference between coaching girls and boys was, my coach answered this: “boys have to play good to feel good. Girls have to feel good to play good”. This is true in many ways. When girls are confident, they are stronger, braver, and happier. This allows us to perform at our best. This coach was a mentor to me and he has forever raised my confidence both on and off the field. I will always remember the advice he gave me and use it when I am not feeling my best. His advice will help me in the future in all aspects of my life.
    Our confidence comes from within, as well as from the people we surround ourselves with. We shine our brightest when we surround ourselves with people who love and support us. When we are sure of ourselves, we want to be the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be. While the article states confidence is not a result of external events, I agree and disagree with this. I feel as if our confidence is affected from the events that take place in our lives and the people we meet throughout our lives. If someone gives you a compliment, you are more likely to smile and put your best foot forward for the rest of the day. Similarly, if someone tells you that you have done something wrong or could have been better, your confidence is likely to be shaken and you will not be as effective as you wish to be.
    This article relates in many ways to school and work. It is important to be confident when we are in professional settings because it allows us to accomplish more. It allows us to be more effective and feel more useful. As stated in the article, “the confident salesperson is likely to close more sales” and “the confident leader points us to the places we want to go”. These are important statements to remember because confidence is something that should be encouraged. Confident people are the people you want to work with and surround yourself with. They are the people who encourage ideas and inspire others. If you choose to be confident and surround yourself with the right people, most of the time you are able to be more confident.

  2. Lauren Hall February 27, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    Confidence is defined as a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. Unfortunately not everyone has this characteristic. Some people lack confidence while others have lots of it. Sadly the reason some people lack self-confidence is because they feel they do not fit in or they are scared to be judged by others. Unfortunately this is how our society is today, especially in places such as high school. People tend to fall into the idea that there are “popular” people and then there are “losers” or “nerds”. I find this idea to be really sad. Personally I do not understand why people have to be divided like that. This division only causes people to feel like they are not good enough and it hurts their confidence.

    Confidence is not an easy characteristic to have. For some people it comes naturally and for others not so much. Personally I believe I am a confident person. I believe this because I have always been someone who is not terrified to get up in front of people and do something. Now, with that said, I am not saying that I don’t get nervous sometimes because I do. For example my senior year in high school I was the captain of my soccer team. At the end of the year as a captain I had to stand up in front of all three teams and all the coaches and parents at our banquet and give a speech. I admit it was nerve racking and I was a little nervous but when I got up there in front of everyone to deliver my speech I was confident in myself that I could do it.Confidence is not an easy thing to have especially if you’re not the best at what you’re doing such as public speaking. But I believe once you get up and do what you are scared or nervous to do you will be more confident in yourself.

    Confidence is not something other people can give you. They can help you to believe in yourself and try to help you but they cannot make you be confident. Confidence is something that comes from within and you have to believe in yourself. Seth was right when he stated that it is easy to be confident when things are going your way or when you are on a roll in whatever it is you are doing. But at the same time I believe you can really see someone’s confidence when things are not going their way but they continue to push through whatever the situation is. Confidence is a beautiful thing everyone should strive to have.

  3. Anthony Scotti January 29, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

    In life confidence is a key in all aspects of life. The example used in this article was a batter getting up for a third time that game having hitting already 2 homeruns. You got to be thinking your previous two at bats and thinking to yourself why not a third time? That is what confidence is. Just like anything else in life, If you want to be good at something you have to practice that everyday day in and day out and try to be consistent each day with doing so. It can be with school, if you have a test and you want to be able to get a 100 on that test you have to practice those problems that lead up to that test so you can master it. Allowing yourself to be in the best set of mind mentally can be a he advantage when it comes to confidence. The way I earn my confidence is by one what most people do is practicing over and over again until I can be the best at whatever that is and two I always like to hear compliments from other people so I can take their advice and praise and make me better at whatever it is.

    For instance professional athletes need to have a plan everyday so that they can win the day whether it’s a workout, a game or event. Preparing yourself mentally is just or is more important that preparing yourself physically. If you have negative thoughts in your mind you will never be able to accomplish what you are doing. The same goes for a lawyer on a case, if you don’t prepare your arguments for defending your client theres no way that you are going to win that case. You have to go over the facts and review them with your client to come out with the best argument possible. Once you have done that you have confidence in yourself as a lawyer that you will win and your client can see that also and build confidence off that. Gaining confidence doesn’t just have to come from one person it can be passed on through energy and help others accomplish there goals also whether it is an individual goal or a group goal. With group confidence there is always that one person that you are going to fed off of. For me and my family our confidence feeds off my dad, hes a very hard worker and he does everything possible to make us happy and stay together. There can be many scenarios in which you can gain energy off someone. You can even gain energy of a professor by him or she calling on you randomly in class and you giving an answer that is right but you weren’t exactly sure it was right but you would’ve never know if that professor did not call on you or not. When it comes to leaders they are the biggest confidence builders not only do the help you but there affect on you can help you try and give others around you confidence also

  4. Wendy Chen February 26, 2016 at 8:32 pm #

    For this week’s blog comments, I didn’t realize that I chose to do all three of my comments on Seth Godin’s posts! Godin writes about topics that give us more knowledge of ourselves and therefore, power to ourselves and who we want to be. I think that this topic is important because no one teaches you how to be confident since there is no one in the world who has mastered confidence. There are times when a person is confident and there will be times when that same person is not because of the very title that confidence is a choice rather than a symptom. I like the example that Seth Godin gave where he said that when a batter has already hit two home runs, of course the batter is going to be “confident” for his third one because the last two were a success; but in that case, it shows confidence as a symptom where enough successes leads up to confidence. Then, proceeding the way that success feeds into confidence, confidence builds into success where Seth Godin says, “the confident salesperson is likely to close more sales, the confident violinist expresses more of the music, and the confident leader points us to the places we want and need to go.” Even though in this case, success comes before confidence and with more confidence, it creates more successes in which more successes then builds even more confidence and so on, this scenario is too ideally unreal because we fail our way to success. Life will never be about one success after another as there are wobbly stones along the way that will make you lose your balance and in that case, true confidence is when you can pick yourself back up and take another step closer to your goal because you believe in yourself and what you can do.
    Real confidence comes from within because they don’t build off of external factors such that when something good happens, confidence becomes an unconscious symptom that you’ve gained. However, confidence must be a choice because bad things will happen to good people and if confidence were a symptom based on external factors, then that means that the person will never be confident with who they are because they rely on external factors to validate themselves and their capabilities. It is not effective to let confidence pop in and out of your life according to the good or bad times because as easy as it is for a person to be confident when things are going their way, it will be just as easy or even easier to lose that “confidence” if it were a sole (and soul) symptom. A series of good things happen, the person is naturally confident; but if it were a series of bad things that happen, if the person does not choose to be confident, the symptom of confidence will easily backfire and leave the person small and afraid. Even though in an ideal world, success makes a person confident and confidence brews more successes, confidence cannot be a symptom of a constantly flowing cause and effect cycle that only creates more success, more confidence, and essentially both at the same time because what happens when the person fails? You succeed because you choose to be confident rather than believing in a false cycle that confidence will come along the way as you become more successful. Seth Godin makes a good point that it is useless to be successful until you are able to be confident because confidence through success makes us believe in confidence as a symptom. We believe in events and the nature of our successes that make us confident. However, we must always first choose to be confident. Then, success will follow, and as success can build more confidence, we must never choose to stop believing in ourselves.

  5. Alyson Tom February 26, 2016 at 10:59 pm #

    According to this article, the author believes that confidence is a choice. He argues that confidence comes from within and they are not a result from outside events. From there, he goes on to further his argument by using the examples that the more confident salesmen will be more likely to produce more sells.

    Confidence is a vital aspect in our life. As prospective business women and men confidence is key in the business world. When people are confidence, they tend to do better because they believe that they can. They put their best effort into whatever they are doing because they believe that they can achieve. One person’s confidence can spread to other people and create a chain reaction. According to Psychology Today, “Confidence is the most important psychological contributor to performance in the business world because you may have all of the ability in the world to accomplish a goal, but if you don’t believe you have that ability, you won’t use that ability to its fullest extent in pursuit of success.” It then goes on to say how confidence impacts other aspects of our life. For example if we’re confident, we feel motivated, focused, and filled with positive emotions. While if we lack confident, we will tend to feel stressed, unmotivated, and we will be filled with negative emotions instead.

    The confidence that comes as a result of outside events is described as being useless. Although it is easy to acquire the author believes that this type of confidence is basically meaningless. I agree because if confidence were to always come from outside events than it can easily go away. It is natural to become confident after multiple successes but if something were to go wrong and the individual failed then all of their confidence would go away. In a sense the confidence we gain from outside events is basically artificial confidence. It can go as easily as it comes. As a result of that, this is not the type of confident someone wants to have.

    It’s easy to say that everyone should be confident on their own. The idea is nice, but the execution of this can be difficult. The article writes it out as if everyone is easily confident. However, today confidence is something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. As social media is available to everyone, everyone has these ideas and images that they believe they have to fulfill. People are able to write negative things regarding other people and as a result, this puts people down. Their confidence dwindles as other people bring them down. Even though confidence should be something that we create on our own other people can affect it too. People should not rely on others in determining our confidence. People need to learn how to create and choose confidence. It starts with believing in ourselves and our capabilities. Being confident is a choice. Although it might be difficult to choose, it benefits people overall. Choosing confidence creates a better lifestyle. This type of confidence leads people to become mentally stronger. Confidence should not come from success but rather success should come from confidence.

  6. Matthew R Ponsiglione May 1, 2017 at 3:33 am #

    Something I am always saying no matter what I am doing is “confidence is key”. Without confidence it is very difficult to achieve anything and that is something I have learned throughout my life. The most important place for me is on the baseball field. Godin even uses a baseball analogy to begin this blog. I am a pitcher and I came into college not knowing what to expect, and within the first week of practice I quickly learned that this was not high school anymore. The first batter I faced was a senior and I thought everyone could see my legs shaking because I was so nervous. The first pitch I threw got hit and it just kept going downhill from there. The next time I went out there was not much better and I was doubting my ability. My coach pulled me aside and tried to explain to me that I am here for a reason and it is because I can compete at this level. I went back out onto the mound the next time and my performance was better; not great, but better. As the fall season went on I began pitching better and before I knew it I was playing some of the best baseball of my life and it all started in my head. Once I finally started to believe I could do it and that I was capable of doing it, everything came so much easier. When it comes to confidence you either have it or you don’t in certain situations. You don’t have it a little it’s either there or its not there. If you sit there and you tell yourself, “I think I can do this.” You have already lost the battle. It is only when you tell yourself “I can do this.” or “I am going to do this.” is the confidence you need really there. Through my athletic career I found that the more confidence I had, the better I played. Being nervous does not affect confidence, nerves just mean you care about what is about to happen and if you care that is good. Confidence brings out the best in people, for example on one of my favorite tv shows, How I Met Your Mother, the main character Ted just gets out of a long relationship and needs some help getting back out there. His friend Barney, sets him up with a woman from his building named Mary and tells him that she is a prostitute that Barney paid for so there is nothing for Ted to worry about because it was a done deal. During the episode Ted lets his guard down and stops being so uptight and confident because he knows he has nothing to worry about. At the end of the episode you find out Mary is not a prostitute and that all Ted really needed to do was be confident and be himself. Things end up not working out for Ted though because Mary finds out he thinks she is a prostitute. The point of that example was that in sports, or just in life, when it comes to doing something you should do it with confidence. Believing in yourself is a great trait to have because confidence goes a long way. A man with enough confidence can do just about anything.

  7. Zachary Crockett November 14, 2019 at 10:58 am #

    I admire Seth’s knowledge regarding the strong difference between internal and external confidence. External confidence is easy. It is easy for someone to be on top of their game when things are going well, but what will surmise when life takes an alternate route? It is the individual who has the confidence within themselves to make strides and continue to grow further when conflict arises. Also, to expand on Seth’s previous claim that the individual who is confident will succeed. With that being said, I agree with his proclamation. Confidence is everything. For instance, regarding a boxing match. The fight is not won in the ring. The fight is not in all won throughout the training sessions, for both fighters most likely are working their limits. The fight is won the two men are face to face. The one who controls the atmosphere and has all the confidence in the world in that instance has won the fight. Although, confidence must be backed. Confidence comes with knowing oneself and that they have done the best of their abilities prior to the contest. Confidence goes a long way in this world. Confidence is an attraction and is unconsciously taken into every account of society. All in all, success and a healthy livelihood begins with confidence within the self, not confidence within “winning.”

  8. Kevin Orcutt November 15, 2019 at 7:50 pm #

    Seth gives very good advice to anyone about confidence. I think he is mainly trying to talk to the younger community that are still developing and trying to find their way in life. This is because confidence is one of the most important qualities a person can have in the world today. Personally, I see confidence as the most important thing because you are able to become a leader with this trait. You are not afraid to do what has to be done, even in hard times where others would crumble. People look to this and gravitate towards people that can lead them, even when they may not know fully what they are doing. I also agree with the fact that Seth is trying to bring up about confidence not only being eternal. I think we have all heard of the common quote “fake it until you make it” from someone giving us advice on how to handle a situation that we may not feel comfortable in. There is no such thing as faking it until you make it because confidence is an entire mind set. If you do not think you can do something, that will always be in the back of your mind regardless if you are performing the task right in front of others. You may also be doing extremely well at it, but still always think that same thing. I think one of the main factors that builds confidence is our knowledge. The more we learn, the more we know about life and fields that we are practicing. With a solid knowledge of a subject, we are able to not be afraid of what is about to come out of our mouths. Common seen in our Legal Foundations of Business class, if a student truly hasn’t read the material, they will be unsure of their answers. They cannot answer a definitive yes or no to a question because their knowledge of the subject is lacking, and they do not want to be wrong. On a last note, I think the one area where Seth does not have it right is the fact of being on a win streak doesn’t build confidence. I think for the people that have the potential to be leaders in their area but are just lacking some of the inner confidence need to see for themselves that they can do something. Seeing success in their work relives the doubt from their mind that they were unable to or that it is only luck. Personally, when I first started doing my own work on cars, I was skeptical whether or not I could actually do anything or be successful. It wasn’t until I just started working on it and having success that I knew I would be great at it. I don’t always win because older vehicles are often times temperamental in the fact of whether or not bolts want to just snap, but I know my abilities were there and I just have to spend a little more time fixing it.

  9. Mia Ferrante November 15, 2019 at 8:47 pm #

    Seth brings up some good points about how important confidence is. He uses a baseball analogy to first explain how confidence works and explains how confidence is easier to come by if it’s set up for you, but oftentimes you have to work for it. I think it’s important for college students to develop a good confidence level considering its importance in the future in any field. Especially in business, I think confidence is the most important factor. If you are confident, people believe you because confidence is attractive, brings success, and helps to connect well with others. Confidence is the most important psychological contributor to performance in the business world because you may have all of the ability in the world to accomplish a goal, but if you don’t believe you have that ability, you won’t use that ability to its fullest in pursuit of success. Confidence also connects to other qualities essential in the workforce aside from business, especially business because if you’re confident, you’re going to be motivated, relaxed, focused, and have mostly positive emotions. In contrast, if you lack confidence, you will likely feel unmotivated, stressed, distracted, and experiencing mostly negative emotions. A mistake many people make in their understanding of how confidence affects them is to believe that it is something that they either have or don’t have and if they don’t have it, they will never be able to get it. On the contrary, confidence is a skill that develops with awareness, practice, and knowledge. The more you are aware or more knowledgeable about something, the more likely you are to speak with assertiveness and confidence because you know more about the subject. To Seth’s point, I think a common misconception is that success comes before developing confidence because a person needs that big boost to get their confidence going. But the problem with that reasoning is that you likely won’t achieve substantial success because lacking confidence, you won’t take the risk of giving it everything you’ve got that is necessary for real success. Overall, success is key is anything in life and it is essential to develop confidence early in life so it carries out in the future.

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