A university basketball team so used to being winless in a tournament ended the 2016 season with a record of 5 wins. There were some changes in the coaching staff and in the players’ line-up. But I think the most important change was that they believed they could win!
My theory is that after the second straight victory, they took their practice sessions more seriously because they finally trusted that they could pay off.
Belief changes everything.
I used to wonder how a player can be “on fire,” making every basket from any impossible angle. Is it skill or is it luck? Now, I believe it’s self-confidence. They shoot without fear. On the other hand, those who shoot with so much apprehension cannot aim well and cannot control their muscles.
Fear destroys focus.
Brendon Burchard is a world-famous personal development trainer. In the book "The Motivation Manifesto," he said that the only way to attain personal freedom is to overcome fear. He advised that we must expect ourselves to succeed because that is the true spark of motivation.
Fear, as we all know, is paralyzing.
In the book "Confidence: How To Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs and Achieve Your Goals," author Martin Meadows wrote about self-efficacy. It is “the strength of your belief in your ability to complete tasks successfully.” He warned that “for the sole reason you don’t believe you are able to achieve your dreams, you’ll live a mediocre life…”
(That line about the “mediocre life” really scared me !)
But he also reassured us that we don’t have to succeed in our early attempts. Coping with failure is key to success. In fact, he mentioned the technique of flooding ourselves with rejection so that we will not be intimidated by it.
In the book "The Confidence Code," BBC anchor Katherine Kay and ABC correspondent Claire Shipman cited an experiment by Prof. Zach Estes, in which some participants initially scored low in a written test because they left some of many questions unanswered. When they took the test again, they got many answers correct. They just didn’t try in the first round. They would rather be safe than make mistakes!
Interestingly, those participants were women. The authors were coming from the assumption that while women are not inferior to men, women are generally less confident. They theorized that society expects girls to be “good” all the time. So, conditioned to be perfectionists, women are not as risk-taking as the men.
Kay and Shipman even discussed a possible culprit in biology. Research on monkeys shows that some are born with a longer version of the gene that regulates the happy hormone serotonin. These monkeys were observed to be more sociable and more risk-taking. In human terms, it means they are more confident.
It is becoming more apparent now that fear of failure is the main thing that stands between us and our ambitions.
To better cope with failure, Martin Meadows in Confidence suggests that we “must ensure small wins."
He showed a picture of three concentric circles. The innermost circle is our comfort zone. The next circle is the stretch zone and the outermost circle is the panic zone. Some may immediately go for a big goal in the outermost circle. They are the really brave ones. But for most of us, the stretch zone is more advisable. “By setting goals slightly above your ability, you will gradually improve the confidence in your abilities." For example, let's not try to be a guitar virtuoso in 4 weeks.
He also suggested that we look for encouragement among our peers. He said he was more inspired by the successes of his fellow members in an on-line forum than by the triumphs of famous people.
I think Meadows’ best advice is “reduce the time spent with negative people who discourage you."
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About the Author:
Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.