Confidence in Sports
You hear the word “confidence” thrown around a lot when people talk about pro athletes and sports teams. Sportscasters and analysts will say things like, “He’s playing with a lot of confidence” and “They have a lot of momentum and confidence heading into the playoffs.” Confidence is a completely intangible aspect but an important one nonetheless.
I play basketball twice a week but I’m not very good. I’m short, not as quick as I used to be, and can’t jump. But I do have a decent jump shot. And if I make my first couple of shots in a game, my confidence rises and I tend to shoot (and hopefully score) a bit more often.
But when I miss those early shots badly, I sometimes get into my own head and lose confidence in my shooting ability. I become more hesitant to fire and pass up shots that I’d normally take. Then I look like a worse player than I already am, and it just gets worse from there. It’s ugly.
Confidence at Work
Confidence affects me a lot at work, too. In the last ten months that I’ve been an entrepreneur, my confidence has been riding a roller coaster.
When I resigned from the Caps last July, my confidence was really high. I had a good five-year run and I left the Caps/Monumental Sports marketing department in better shape than when I joined. I was leaving to work on my startup, Dokkit, and I was so motivated to change the world. I also secured a couple of consulting contracts that allowed me to take the leap.
Just a few months later, Dokkit was no more, and my confidence tumbled. Dokkit was the primary reason why I left my awesome job at the Caps, and a lot of thoughts ran through my mind – anger, regret, disappointment, self-doubt, and a little bit of fear. I was lost for a while, unmotivated, and felt like I didn’t have much of an identity in the startup world. I did have some wins, as I completed a consulting engagement and scored another, which gave me a little bump. But in the larger scheme of things, it didn’t help much, as I wasn’t trying to build a consulting firm; I was trying to create a startup.
Forming a partnership with Thorn Technologies in December has been a real positive for me. Not only do I get to use my marketing skills to help Jeff grow his software development business, but we’re working together on a startup as well. I have clear deliverables and timelines (my confidence increases when I execute discrete tasks well), and I have a newfound identity in startup land. It’s been a great partnership so far, and one that has definitely helped me increase my confidence and motivation on a daily basis.
Still, everyday there are highs and lows. Some days are tougher than others, but that’s all part of the struggle.
Getting Out of the Rut
Things are easy when your confidence is peaking. It just feels like you’re smarter, things move more quickly, and you worry less about the little things.
But what about when you’re in the valley? Everything seems to move too slowly, every task is a bit more difficult, and you tend to stress more about insignificant things. Motivation drops, which then lowers your confidence even more. It’s a vicious cycle. How do you get out of that rut?
I try to add value in other ways. In my basketball situation, I’ll pass the ball a bit more and play better defense. When an easy shot opens up, I’ll try to take advantage of that to build my shooting confidence. At work, I’ll delve into a task that doesn’t take too much brainpower. Maybe I’ll take care of administrative work or write a personal blog post to get some things off my chest (like I’m doing now). Sometimes even those tasks are difficult but it helps me make a little bit of progress when I’m not at my best.
Does confidence impact you as much as it impacts me? If so, how do you take advantage of the peaks and deal with the valleys?