January 8


The Link Between Confidence And Competence

A number of years ago, a friend of mine was at home flicking through the TV channels looking for something to watch. It was then that he came across a televised game of texas Hold’em poker. As he watched the poker faces and the decisions made, a thought came into mind;

“I could do what these guys are doing”

Allow me to back up for a moment. He had never played poker before and was now watching top professional players and the conclusion he comes to is ‘I could do what these guys are doing’. He knew he had no skills, but from a place of true confidence he was able to see that he could get as good as the players he was watching.

The next day he set out to get good, starting with learning the rules, the strategies, then playing with fun money. When he got better he started playing small stakes with real money. As he became more skilled the stakes grew larger until his winnings were consistently more than what he was earning in his day job. Today he is a professional poker player, earning more than he has ever done.


Experience breeds competence

If I am hiring a lawyer, I want to be sure they are competent in the area they are advising me on. If that lawyer is experienced it is likely they will be confident in the information they are providing and if I am paying them I would expect them to be. In sport psychology, having confidence within a specific context is called Self-efficacy or State confidence.

He wasn’t experienced talking socially

However self-confidence and competence-confidence are separate entities and problems can arise when you attempt to treat them as one. A client of mine was really low in confidence and attributed that to being nervous about speaking to people in a social setting. This prompted him to avoid most social events he had the opportunity to attend. When I asked if he had much experience in speaking with people he didn’t know in social settings, he replied with a definitive ‘no’. So I explained that he isn’t supposed to be confident in talking with people he didn’t know. The people that tend to be good in those situations are good because they have had a lot of practice doing it; simply, they go to more social events. When he was able to understand that he could see that his self-confidence was separate from competence-confidence and that by discovering what was necessary to increase both, he was able to reduce the magnitude of the problem he thought he was experiencing.

People forget

One of the interesting observations I discover when working as a coach is how much people forgot how powerful they actually are and what is possible for them. It is not uncommon for clients to say “I’m just enjoying what I doing in my life at the moment”. Their confidence had laid dormant for so long, just discovering it again is enough to set in motion the momentum necessary for opportunities to occur.

When you ignite your self-confidence you can be aware that you are not competent in a particular area…and you are completely ok with that, freeing up head space to ask yourself the question ‘what can I do right now to start getting better’

Someone with low self-confidence will be aware they are not competent in a particular area…and see it as more evidence of their lack of worth.

Which one do you want to be?

Takeaway: competent confidence comes from experience, Self confidence is exclusive from competence but helps in the process of getting good.


confidence, Peak Performance

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