Some of the worst advice I hear is from life coaches telling us that we have to believe in ourselves before we can be successful.
But what if I can’t do it?
What if I haven’t developed the skills necessary to take care of the job?
If I’ve never been in a situation like what I’m experiencing, there’s no good reason for me to believe that I can do it. There’s no way for me to know what I’m capable of.
That’s why I don’t rely on belief.
When I have to give a big presentation, I don’t walk in with my chest high believing that I’m ready. I like to come in knowing that I’m ready to perform.
Because I understand the truth in Archilochos’s statement:
We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.
It’s ridiculous to think that I’ll suddenly perform when the pressure is on. Self esteem won’t help me when I forget what I’m supposed to say on Slide 5, or when I get stumped by a question.
So I don’t rely on self esteem. I rehearse obsessively until I’m absolutely sure that I’m ready to go. I give the presentation at random times and in various settings throughout the day, and think through every question I can imagine.
Before I walk into the meeting room, I’ve prepared for almost anything that could be thrown at me.
When I finally give the presentation, there’s no need for me to believe. It’s all based on evidence.
This same idea is what makes sports so great.
Every game, every practice, and every day messing around with your friends is an opportunity to see what you’re made of. It’s a chance to see how you’ll respond in different situations.
You’re going to fail.
And that’s ok.
Learn from it, and come back stronger next time. Every time you fail is a lesson.
Eventually, once you practice enough, you’ll start getting it right. You’ll start to perform when your back is against the wall, and then you’ll know that you have what it takes to get the job done.
That’s when you should start to believe in yourself. Because it’s no longer based on blind faith. You have evidence.
You should believe in yourself when the ball is in your hands at the end of the game if you’ve proven to yourself that you have what it takes.
You should trust that you’re ready for your test if you’ve excelled on a few practice tests.
The great thing is that this type of confidence can transfer between different areas in your life.
A few experiences digging deep and grinding out an extra rep at the end of my workouts have shown me that I have what it takes to perform when the going gets tough. Whether that’s on the field or in the classroom.
Delivering in high pressure situations on the football field helped convince me that I can perform when the pressure is on, regardless where it is.
So how do you build this type of evidence?
By getting out there and pushing yourself to your limits. Expose yourself to challenging situations and see what you’re made of.
When it matters most, do you want believe your ability, or do you want to have evidence?