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Published on November 20, 2017

The 7 Elements of Confidence

Have you ever panicked? Or felt like being in a dead-end, uncertain, or unconfident to the extent that you froze? Such things may happen in any occasion: in extreme sports, working with difficult people, managing something overwhelmingly complex or frightening, getting caught in an all-new situation, or being under a real threat of violence or serious illness.

You may also have met someone who has made an intervention, maybe saved you from immediate threat, calmed you down, and restored your ability to act. Such ability is not based on a position, degree, or experience. It is inner clarity and serenity that these people can establish in themselves and the people around them, even under the greatest pressure and uncertainty.

I still haven’t found the formula for confidence but I believe I have found the seven essential elements of the formula.

The first element is practice. The masters of confidence have trained their professional skill, whatever it is, to the level of automatic mastery. Just think of fire fighters, combat soldiers, or soccer players. Obviously, enormous amounts of practice bring along not only the skill but an enormous amount of experience on different circumstances and situations. Such basic confidence on what is certain allows the masters to focus their energy on coping with the uncertain.

The second element is the skill of calming down. No matter how well trained and experienced you are, surprising threats will shock you and scare you. The question is how fast you calm down. Before you have calmed down you cannot act or calm anyone else.

The third element is the attitude to uncertainty. When faced with uncertainty and threat most people escape to what they believe is certain. The masters accept uncertainty. They don’t like it. They may even fear it. But they don’t escape it. You cannot be certain about everything but the better you master your zone of certainty and the better you know its limits the better equipped you are to face the uncertain.

The fourth element is active, curious observing. In uncertainty, you must collect information continuously, notice even the smallest changes, and connect the different signals in your mind rapidly. You’ll never have all the information you need but the more you have the better you are able to decide and act.

The fifth element is focus. It is mentally impossible to observe and estimate everything. The masters of confidence are very focused on something. It is hard to say where that focus exactly is. I believe the masters focus on the purpose they are fulfilling and, in the middle of a crisis, narrow it further down to the immediate task or objective at hand. As soon as the immediate fight is over they seem to raise the level of their focus back to their purpose.

The sixth element is decision-making. For the masters of confidence timing is of essence. There is seldom time for procrastination. Decisions must be made and executed fast, often with incomplete information. The elements of practice, observing, and focus provide a solid ground for deciding fast, improving the probability of getting it right, and being able to correct a wrong decision promptly.

The seventh element is values and faith. Uncertainty is a state that, by definition, implies inadequate information and understanding. Only a person with solid, deeply rooted personal values and a strong faith in what they believe is right can thrive in uncertainty.

A person who possesses all the skills in these seven elements and can use them in a right balance is a likely master of confidence. Whether she or he can create and restore confidence in another human being depends on one more thing. She must care about that other person.

This is what I have found during my quest for mastering confidence. What do you think?