“People with more confidence in their ability and their self-worth tend[…] to be happier and more successful.”
As a birthday present from my friend Barbara, I recently got a book which really struggle to put down. “Willpower” by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney is about how willpower affects success and happiness – much more than talent, intellect or other factors which may come to our minds when thinking about success.
The above-quote really made me think. Is it really true? I do not want to question scientific studies here but I was curious if this was true for myself as well. Almost immediately, the tennis matches I lost when I took part in tournaments came to my mind. I lost almost all of them because I did not believe in my abilities. I remember one match in particular. My counterpart was among the top 10 players in Austria. When I heard I was going to play against her, my brain immediately shut off. Probably unconsciously, I had already written off that match.
I made mistakes I usually never made. I did not fight as hard as I did during the trainings the week before. And, probably the biggest problem: I was playing it safe. Instead of thinking: “I don’t have anything to lose.”, I played defense and let her dominate the game. No surprise, I lost big time: 6-0 and 6-1. I still remember it today. Probably if I had mentally got myself to believe more in my abilities (especially in my strong backhand), I would have been more successful – and maybe at least lost with some pride.
Assuming that the above-quote is right, there are some things we can infer from this tennis match anecdote and apply it to our professional lives as well. Speakers at conferences who are confident are less likely to be questioned regarding their abilities and success. Team members are more likely to trust a boss who believes in their own abilities. And think about a pilot who does not believe in their abilities? Would you board that plane?
Very often, I catch myself thinking about the worst case scenarios. I am actually a pro in imagining dragons. What if nobody is interested in the product? What if nobody buys it? But over time, I had to learn that this way of thinking does not help at all. It actually hinders me. Sometimes, it even acts as a self-fullfilling prophecy: it hinders me to be creative, productive and positive. Especially the last one is key if you want to convince others about your products/services. If I do not believe in it myself, why should my customers? Spinning the cycle further, they will really not be interested in it, will not buy it and I will end up with no revenue.
“[Those] who assume success tend[…] to already to have success.”
I do believe that the seeds we plant will grow into plants later on. If we plant the seed of “this is going to work out, everything will be fine”, we are more likely to actually work towards it. This positive mindset paired with the right amount of self-confidence (and the perception of being self-confident) are definitely key ingredients to success and happiness. If we believe in ourselves, why should others question us? And yes, on some days we may need to fake that confidence.
This week, I am having a big announcement about my latest project which I have been talking about the past weeks. I am really excited, busy and terrified at the same time. Will everything turn out the way I imagine it to be? What if it does not? Can I deliver? But instead, I decided to start my own “scientific” experiment. This time, I plant a positive seed. This time, I will not imagine dragons (well, at least I will try really hard not to) and I will believe in my abilities, plans and strategies. And I actually want to enjoy that journey. Let’s see how that attitude turns out.
I will keep you updated about this project on my Instagram. I am really excited to finally be able to share it with you. It is really me and of course, really, really cool!
And now, I need to board a plane. Have a great start into the week and do not forget to plant your positive seeds!