Failure. It’s one word that just about everyone tries to avoid at all costs. If you were to google the definition of failure, the first thing that pops up is “a lack of success”. Sure, by its technical definition, failing at something is the opposite of succeeding. But in reality? I believe that failure is truly needed in order to succeed. At one point (or even several points) in each of our lives, we will fail. We will get knocked down, lose a battle, or suffer in one way or another. Several of you as readers have asked me to talk about confidence, and how to gain or keep it at the highest level. To answer this to the best of my ability, let me first ask you my own question:
Are you willing to embrace failure?
Because if you are, I promise that you are headed in the right direction toward confidence. Not just confidence when you are performing well, but confidence even during the darkest of storms. I believe that attaining this type of authentic, resilient confidence comes down to three key ideas.
Failure Makes you Better
The first key to confidence is having a healthy mindset. Failure at first glance makes someone feel as though they are getting further away from a desired goal. But truthfully? That failure is making them better at their craft. My most recent experience confirming this was during my senior year of college basketball. My team and I were only three wins away from becoming Big Ten Regular Season Champions. All we had to do was defeat Indiana, Nebraska, and Northwestern. We had already beaten Nebraska earlier in the season and the other two teams were ranked below us. On paper it was the perfect set up for a magical ending to the regular season. However, reality showed us a whole different journey. We lost on the road to Indiana by two points. Two. Points. It was heartbreaking to say the least, especially because we failed during such a crucial time to a team we knew we should have beaten. We watched as our Big Ten Championship dreams slipped through our fingers. Maryland, who we beat previously, was now two wins ahead of us and it would have taken a miracle for them to lose their final games. As easy as it would have been to give up as a team and just try and finish out the season, we did not give up. We used this failure to get better. We went back to the drawing board. Back to film, to scouting reports, and to practice and used our failure as fuel to our fire. We won out the rest of the regular season, and ended up finishing second place overall. Thankfully, we still had the Big Ten Tournament left, and we rode our confidence all the way to a Big Ten Tournament Championship Title (we even got to beat both Indiana and Maryland during this – talk about full circle!). You see, our goal was reached not by the absence of failure, but because of it. Failure makes you realize what you were doing wrong so you can address it and make things right. Failure makes you better and this is something I have come to fully embrace since being cut from the WNBA. Trust me, I have already seen results. Keep radiating that confidence readers, don’t let failures take the driver seat to your desired destination!
Align Your Confidence with Your Passion
Confidence, I believe, is like a flower. As long as you nurture it, it will grow into something beautiful. But every plant needs roots, and what is at the root of confidence, you ask? Happiness. Doing what you love is the very foundation of being happy, and is considered a recipe for sustained confidence. Think about this – if you love doing something (e.g. a career, a hobby, etc.) then you will most likely find joy while spending time into doing that very something. Speaking of time, let’s go back to our flower scenario. As long as a seed to a flower receives water, it will grow. That water is actually representative of time spent improving upon a skill. The more time we spend on reaching a goal, the better we become and ultimately the more confident we become. Real confidence has never been built in a day – rather, it is built up after years of nurturing it with time and hard work. The only way we are able to put in time and hard work is if we are motivated – and what better way to be motivated than to be inspired by doing what we love?
If you are currently in a place where you cannot seem to find your own passion or purpose, do not worry because the works you are doing right now are a part of God’s wonderful plan for you! – “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
Audience of One – Ao1
Finally, if you forget absolutely everything else I have written, please remember what I am about to tell you. The most important key to establishing true confidence is this: having an audience of one. An audience of one means simply that – your audience should always be and only be Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. During each of our lifetimes, the world will be watching what we do in life – some more than others – but no matter who you are, people will judge you, attack you, and try and bring your confidence down. Whether it may be strangers, the media, friends, or even family, it is critical that you cancel out the external negative noise. Now this doesn’t mean to not listen to or love others, because some people in your life are trying to uplift and help you. But what I am emphasizing is that God is the only one who will unconditionally love you the most no matter how many times you fail. He will be there to pick you up, to wipe your tears from your face, and to show you how much you mean to Him. How incredible is it to know that the creator of the heavens and earth cares about you that much?
My performance as a basketball player has never depended on how good or bad I do. I know with 100% certainty that God loves me when I score 0 points or when I score 50 points. He loves me when I win or lose. Off the court I know that no matter how many times I mess up in my life, He will be there to guide me in the right direction. At the end of the day, the only person in my arena – in my audience – is God. To me, that is all the confidence I will ever need!
“He must become Greater, and I must become less.” – John 3:30