If you use a bit of reasoning it is relatively easy to distinguish Mohammed Ali’s supreme confidence from arrogance. However, there is an extremely hazardous condition called over confidence. It has to do with the over estimation of one’s own ability and hence the accuracy of one’s predictions. This manifests in poor planning estimates and illusions of one’s ability. It’s very similar to the Dunning-Kruger effect described by Wikipedia as a cognitive bias in which many unskilled people over estimate their abilities, make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the ability to recognise their mistakes. In this instance the unskilled suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is. Conversely the highly skilled often underrate their abilities. They can be under confident and suffer from illusory inferiority. Actual competence seems to have the ability to weaken self-confidence as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have equivalent abilities to them.
Watch out for escalating commitment
There are many hazards associated with over confidence including that it often leads to escalating commitment. This causes decision makers to refuse to withdraw from a losing situation or they continue to throw good money, effort, time and other resources after bad investments. That certainly is not Mental Toughness. Knowing when to stop is as important, if not more important, as knowing when to start. Many years ago I heard someone say that it may be hard to know when to start a business but it’s even harder to know when to get out of the business.
Can you develop supreme confidence?
You may not be able to, or need to, develop the supreme confidence of high achievers like Mohammed Ali. Nevertheless developing a high level of confidence will be a very significant contributor to achieving your intention. Developing confidence starts at a very young age. It is influenced by the beliefs and values a child internalises from the environment in which they are socialised. This environment includes, among others, nurturing, schooling and random events. Once beliefs and values have been internalised children use these to evaluate and make judgements about their daily experiences. In some instances the interpretations will be effective in developing confidence; in others they can have a negative effect. Therefore, if you intend to help a child develop confidence, be aware that in these formative years, each individual is developing his or her unique way of viewing and interpreting experiences. Based on this you can modify your approach to tailor-make your nurturing efforts.
Are you defined by your past?
Despite the effects of nurturing, schooling and randomness, I believe you can still make a major contribution to developing your confidence as an adult by systematically implementing the components of Mental Toughness. The process will usually start with clarifying your preferred future and having a strategy to bring it into reality. This is followed by applying composure, applying controlled aggression and committing to a process of lifelong learning. In this way you create your own Mathew effect and you start to reflect positively on yourself and your confidence grows. We are formed by our past but do not have to be defined by it.
Do a SWOT analysis on your abilities
Doing a SWOT analysis on your abilities enables you to set goals and action plans that will maximise your strengths and manage your weakness in the direction of your dream. For example, you may identify that your education achievements are strengths but your lack of experience is a weakness. In this instance, as an action plan, you can simultaneously address maximising your strength and
minimising your weakness. For example you may try to use your high levels of education to get the attention of workplace providers and offer them your services for a limited period on risk (at no charge) to achieve experience. The very fact that you are moving in the direction of your dream will assist in your confidence growing process.
Alternatively, you may have a good education and some relevant experience but your image is a weaknesses. Image could mean a host of things that detract from you becoming successful. This could mean your body image, your grooming or your posture. The mere recognition of this concern and an accompanying action plan to address it will kick start your confidence building. In terms of the details of this type of action plan, I am sure you don’t need me to tell you how to eat for health, manage your weight, get fit, walk upright and keep your hair tidy – or do you? However, if you know what to do, but you are still not doing it, you lack motivation.
Over confidence can be dangerous and can lead to escalating commitment. Rather develop supreme confidence. Don’t be defined by your past. Do a SWOT analysis on your abilities
Dr Steve – Mind Doctor