In baseball, when a player is really hitting the ball well, and making such a truly hard task look easy, it is often said they are swinging with confidence. For a coach, this is exactly what you want for your player. To go out there, face down a pitcher who is going to hurl a tiny little ball their direction at a tremendous speed, and feel like they are going to not only make contact with every swing, but really hit the ball well. For a game where if you fail to reach base only seven out of ten times you are considered a great player, standing in the batter’s box with such confidence while the odds of failure are stacked against you is in itself a great feat.
But the thing is, there is something about confidence. It’s not that you think you can do the impossible, when you have that sort of confidence, it doesn’t seem impossible. It’s a mindset that can be extremely powerful, and I would argue is a common denominator between many who have found success in things that if you step back and take a look at the odds, they probably never should have even attempted.
One thing to note. I’m not talking about the confidence that comes off as bravado, or the attitude some think is confidence but really is just a person who thinks they are never wrong. That’s just annoying, and if anything, shows someone who lacks self reflection. I’m talking about the confidence that comes with seeing something clearly in your mind’s eye, and then working towards making that vision a reality.
Recently, I stumbled upon my application letter I wrote when I was eighteen and applying to college at CalArts. In the letter I made the statement what you can conceive and believe, you can achieve (at the time I think I liked the fact that it rhymed as much as what it said). I was young and full of energy and optimism, but there is something to be said about this phrase when you break it down. It’s not what you can believe you can achieve or what you can conceive you can achieve. It’s the combination of conceive, believe, achieve. You need all three of these pieces.
Conceive. This is vital. The clearer the vision you have in your head, the better your chances of making it a reality. Coaches know this. See the ball. Watch the ball go into the basket. See yourself pulling away from the other runners. I could go on and on. What they are doing with statements like this is trying to paint a picture in their players heads that is a clear goal. When working on a project, what you should be doing is trying to clarify the idea in your head as much as possible. The clearer the vision, the easier it will be to translate into the real world.
Believe. If your vision is extremely clear, then the believing part isn’t that hard. Clarity makes things simpler. And simpler things are often easer to believe. The red flag that should go up happens when you are having to convince yourself something is a good idea. This is probably a case where your vision isn’t as clear and worked out as it needs to be. Go back a step, and try to make it better, and then put it to your own internal belief test.
Achieve. At this point, a very clear vision that easily falls within the realm of believability should be much more achievable. When things seem less achievable, it is usually because the first two parts of the equation don’t hold up. Work on those, and the third will come into view.
So the next time you hear a phrase like swing with confidence, or see someone attempting to do something amazing, I’ll bet what you are witnessing is built upon someone who has a clear idea in their head, truly believes they can make that idea a reality, a will at some point achieve their goal.