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Confidence Alone Isn’t Enough to Succeed

Liston Witherill
Liston Witherill
1 min read

A while back I wrote about what it was like being the cool kid in high school. In short, some people thought I was cool, but I never felt cool.

I lacked confidence in myself.

In that article, I made the argument that confidence comes from a belief that you will you succeed. I didn’t make it up: this argument comes from the psychology literature about confidence.

But a reader – Brook M. – challenged me on that. And he made a really good point:

“I thought perhaps it didn’t touch deep enough on the “Belief in your competence” component. Like how much of this belief should come from working on your competence, and how much should come from believing more?”

Strictly speaking, you can have confidence with any basis in reality. That is, you can believe you will succeed even in the absence of evidence that it’s true.

For most of us, we’ve developed competence and the ability to rapidly learn and improve our skills. What some of us lack is the competence to propel ourselves forward. If this is you, confidence may be the missing component in your success.

On the other hand, confidence absent competence is a disaster. The film The Disaster Artist explored this theme, and it was, not surprisingly, a disaster.

The main character, Tommy Wiseau, is a real person. He is an objectively terrible actor, writer, and director. His movie The Room is known by many as the worst movie ever made. Throughout the filming of the movie, he seemingly had no conception of the disaster that it was.

Was Tommy confident? Yes.

Did he have reason to be confident? No.

Confidence alone isn’t enough. Continued dedication to your craft, your business, and your own self-improvement are necessary ingredients, too.

Notes