What is Confidence?
As written for Strong, a Journal by Kara Goucher
I’ve been told I’m in the category of people with a “quiet confidence”.
I was always afraid of being cocky, because it’s just not something I’m comfortable with. I know it can be entertaining to watch a brazen athlete point beyond the outfield or hype up a big future performance, but like a risque piece of fashion, it’s just not something I can pull off. ‘That’s for ballers and boxers and pop stars’, I thought. It requires a larger-than-life personality, and a penchant for showmanship I just do not have. The constant inauthenticity it would take to fake my dweeby distance-runner way there just stressed me out.
I’ve come to realize you can have the confidence that is essential to success, without being cocky, because they are really different.
I view confidence as belief in yourself. However, it’s the inner dialogue, not necessarily connected to what you outwardly say or show (or Tweet or Instagram !).
The major source of my confidence is work.
I feel confident from the workload I put in while training, knowing it is both the cornerstone of all good performances and a predictor of what realm of performance is possible for me.
This is not to say I give myself limits. I just think hitting a big performance target requires a certain level of accuracy on what exactly you’re trying to do.
My journals of that training are both a guide and a source of mental strength.
Recording miles and workouts and reading them before races helps calm irrational fears and keep me focused on my task at hand. This reminds me that I’m prepared and prevents me from becoming too distracted by uncontrollable factors.
I think being open minded and trusting your ability to learn and improve are also reflections of being confident.
Sometimes when I get discouraged I ask myself these questions:
Are you really giving yourself your best shot?
What could be better?
How can I get out of my own way?
Who can help me look at things differently?
What do I need to let go of and what do I need to adopt?
Because ultimately, I see confidence as believing in yourself enough to give you and your dreams the best shot.
It’s a willingness to put in work, learn from mistakes, and seek guidance from mentors and experts because you trust that you really CAN hit your goals with these ingredients.
Also, with confidence, you enter into the contract of uncertainty implicit in all dream-chasing because you believe you will make it all worthwhile.
It’s not that you know you won’t drop the ball or that you will win the gold.
No one knows that for sure!
It’s that you know you will be ok, win or lose. It’s a kind of fearlessness this way.
In fact you have to know it will be more than ok, because you have to realize the process as a whole will make you better/stronger/tougher/wiser/more alive.
That view has emboldened me on the track in ways I wouldn’t have predicted from my non-running life. Racing has pushed me (eventually) to cultivate a form of confidence that suits me best. It’s not the loudest message, but I can hear it, and more importantly I’ve learned to listen to it.