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Do you have the right type of confidence? This applies to sport (primary focus of this post) but to any other area in life.
Confidence is a key factor in sport and when competing (and in life in general). One of the most common mental roadblocks I see in athletes (and in business) is a lack of confidence. I personally lacked confidence when I was a teenage swimmer. I was doubting that I belonged, I had negative thoughts about how I would swim poorly once again, and so on. And it really got in my way to perform at my full potential on a regular basis.
Developing a realistic healthy self-image is key in your ability to perform at your best. The good news is confidence is a learned skill that you can improve with regular work. Confidence and Self-esteem give you the ability to create and sustain an optimal performance regardless of the external conditions.
Some say that confidence comes first, other that confidence is a result. I believe it’s both.
- You can build your confidence with some techniques I often speak about like positive affirmations or mental imagery (which send to your brain the message that you are confident and good no matter what happens or has happened), journaling your victories, remembering where you come from, etc… This builds a part of your confidence
- Then, as soon as you achieve one important thing that you consider a success, your confidence skyrockets because that’s the proof your brain has been looking for.
Then you will forget about it, focused on the next goal, next obstacles. That’s when you want to bring back your past achievements as proof that you have been successful and that there is no reason why you couldn’t be successful again and use mental techniques again.
Now, there is a distinction I want to draw your attention on today, which is Over confidence vs Ultra confidence.
Over confidence is believing that you WILL succeed (win, score, etc…) NO MATTER WHAT you do and may be followed by disengagement and lack of focus. Over confidence looks like arrogance. Over confidence has you attached to a successful outcome and makes you forget about the important tasks. That happens a lot when you face a weaker opponent, whether in an individual sport or a team sport.
Ultra confidence on the other hand is a strong belief that you CAN succeed (even when it doesn’t look obvious) IF you give it all and perform to your full potential, and is followed by intention and strong focus. Ultra confidence is independent of external circumstances, even independent from the outcome (you are willing to accept to be defeated, or fail).
Tennis player Stan Wawrinka is a great example of Ultra confidence. He is one of the rare players who tend to be better against the best players in the world during the most important matches (in grand Slam) than against weaker player in less important tournaments. And he defeated Djokovic in the last US Open. “In my generation, a lot of players, when they play Novak (Djokovic), Roger (Federer) or Rafa (Nadal), already have 10% less chances to win”, did he say. “I have seen a lot of matches like that. Mentally, I arrived to a point where, there are days I know that, when going onto the court, I won’t let the match go. I’m not saying that in an arrogant way, like “I’m going to win”, but mentally, I know I will be stable and that I will produce a very good tennis. Then, you may still lose, but because the other has been better.”
That’s exactly what I am talking about: knowing you can do it, based on YOUR ability, not in an arrogant way, just present to your full potential, and be OK with losing.
Develop your confidence, aim for an Ultra confidence that external circumstances won’t be able to shake, and pay attention to not fall into Over confidence.