Editor’s Note: Assured in Ourselves

September 2020 issue

Jane Gaboury
© Eddie Tapp
Jane Gaboury

If we don't believe, who will?

Self-confidence is more than healthy self-esteem. But it’s not bravado or boastfulness. Self-confidence is a conviction in our own abilities. It’s trust in our talents. It’s a belief that we are able to do what must be done. Self-confidence is a state of mind. It isn’t earning the award that makes us confident; it’s the knowledge that we’ve mastered the subject that earned us the award.

This month, PPA President Gregory Daniel, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, F-ASP, asks the question, “Is Confidence a Factor?” I’d say, yes, self-confidence is a requisite element of successful entrepreneurship. I can’t think of any owner of a prospering business who lacks it.

Why is confidence so important to success? To start with, it’s usually accompanied by competence. The trust we have in our abilities comes from having developed proficiency in some arena—knowledge, physical accomplishment, professional triumph. If you’re confident without having developed such proficiency, then—whoops—you’re overconfident. Overconfidence is an exaggeration of one’s abilities, an embellishment of our talents. While self-confidence helps us reach our highest potential, overconfidence caps our potential because it blinds us to our flaws.

Confidence requires that we have a realistic appreciation of our capabilities. We’re aware of our strengths and also recognize our weaknesses. But because we’re secure in our abilities, we’re willing to tackle the hard work of mastering new things that will help us overcome these deficiencies. Rather than shrinking from our lack of ability or ignorance in some field, we see opportunity in the challenge to learn and grow.

Confidence is what allows us to take risks, like those that are necessary to become an entrepreneur. People who are self-confident know that most failures aren’t fatal. And so they try things they know they’re not good at … yet.

And I believe confidence is what allows us to express vulnerability, which is the basis for any deep and meaningful relationship.

What can be done for those of us who lack confidence? Many a self-help book has been written about that. Experts say that slaying negative ideas and replacing them with positive thinking is a start. When we tell ourselves we’re not capable or don’t have value, we’re right—because we make it right. When we expect to be incapable, we succeed. It sounds trite to say “Think positive,” but it works. If we think the same negative things over and over, we’re strengthening our inabilities and working toward fulfilling bad outcomes. Instead, let’s put that energy and belief toward enabling our certainty in success.

Increasing our competence is another factor that boosts confidence. “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation,” said tennis champion Arthur Ashe. Improving our abilities is not for the purpose of gaining acclaim from others but for earning that great feeling of accomplishment after working hard to gain mastery of something new. External rewards are just outcomes of the goal itself.

Challenge yourself to believe in yourself. Go ahead, I have confidence in you.

Jane Gaboury is the director of publications at Professional Photographers of America.

Tags: bridging the gapgap

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