It started in the 80’s, went wild in the 90’s and got juiced up in the nouties. No, I’m not talking about Lance Armstrongs career, I’m talking about the motivation & self-esteem movement. An orgy of affirmations and declarations that you are perfect exactly how you are. Charismatic motivational leaders with white teeth and perma smiles primed you up to a level of utopia then sent you along your way feeling like you could take on the world…and kick its ass. More money, more happiness, more success than you ever thought possible.
This article is about the dark side of all of this.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is possible to have all of the things that this era has proclaimed; Want more success? You can have it. Want to be more confident? It’s definitely possible.
It’s All About Effort
The problem comes when you think you have something before you have got it. The psychologist Carol Dweck once conducted a study where she placed a class of school children into 2 groups and assigned a task. When the task was complete the teacher was told to give feedback to one group in the form of statements like “You are really good at this” & “You are brilliant”, whilst she was advised to give feedback to the other group by saying things like “I can see you tried really hard in this task” & “You put a lot of effort into this task”. The groups were then asked if they wanted to try another, more difficult task. Dweck found that more children in the group that was acknowledged by their effort (the second group) attempted the harder task than the first group.
The problem is that the majority of the culture in the last 20 years has been about praising identity (You’re perfect exactly as you are, You were born confident) rather than the ongoing process of effort. An example of this has come in a recent finding of graduates who are showing high levels of external confidence & self-esteem without necessarily having the competence to back up this confidence. This can elicit a sense of entitlement of what they should be earning, what role they should be going for and under what conditions.
An interesting finding came up in the study of graduates where the researchers found less activation in the pre-frontal cortex area of these hyper-confident graduates. This can indicate a low level of ‘self-assessment’ and ‘self-reflection’ as the pre-frontal cortex is noted for its function of analysis and rational thinking.
Here at the Confidence Lounge, I am helping you to elicit ACTUAL confidence as opposed to artificial confidence that acts as a band-aid for fragile construction of reality. In order to achieve actual confidence you have to optimise the whole function of your brain from the creative process (for the creation of ideas) to the flow process (for the execution of ideas) right through to the ability to critically analyse your current position and competencies without breaking down into a world of self-pity (for the evolution of ‘self’).
If you are content with artificial confidence, find a mirror and say your affirmations 100 times. If you want to experience true confidence be part of the confidence lounge community and be ready for effort, a changing of reality and a level of success that is entirely your doing.
Now Your Turn! What is the most important thing about confidence for you.