Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

confidenceIt affects me a lot, in a few parts of my life. For me, confidence is many times linked to motivation, and they both impact my performance. Here are a couple of examples.

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?


Comments
Harvey Specter
Posted at 10:57 am May 13, 2013
Ebong
Reply
Author

I love this post of yours Mike! It’s a perfect example of how all parts of our lives intersect. Like you, I’ve spent a lot of time in start ups and early stage companies and I’ve not only witnessed these emotions but have also experienced them over time.

In my experience in business and basketball…I’m ok with being pseudo confident but there are certain times when my competitive nature rises through the air of apathy. Most of my life has been an up hill battle to achieve everything I’ve sought after. As a result, I not only have a ‘chip’ on my shoulder, but I have a desire to prove doubters wrong and win. That inherent trait has served me well during times of falling in a rut – which is normal.

I would like to speak with you further about your experience leaving Dokkit to where you are now if you’re interested…I also write a blog for the huffington post and your experience is an example of perseverance that others need to hear about!

Without confidence…one will never be competitive because that person will never believe in their ability to take the first step!

    Harvey Specter
    Posted at 9:40 am May 16, 2013
    mikewchan
    Reply
    Author

    Hey E,

    Thanks for the comment! You’re absolutely right, and your comment is similar in nature to Vicky’s comment about how confidence and competitiveness are linked.

    I’d love to chat with you more about this. Talk soon.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 10:32 am April 18, 2013
Vicky C.
Reply
Author

I totally agree with you; my level of confidence determines how well I perform in many, if not all, aspects of my life. I think confidence also has to do with how competitive you are as a person. I’m not a competitive person, so when I compare myself to others who are better than me, I lose confidence rather than being more motivated to do better. Or is it that I’m not a confident person and that’s why I don’t like to compete? Which came first – Competitiveness or Confidence?

    Harvey Specter
    Posted at 11:00 am April 18, 2013
    mikewchan
    Reply
    Author

    I think you can be confident without being competitive, but it’s rare for someone to be competitive without being confident.

    In the former, you can be confident in your skills but generally be a very giving, sharing person who doesn’t want to beat the guy next to you. In the latter, if you’re not confident in your skills, you won’t be able to compete with and win against your competition.

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