TED Talk – The Skill of Self-Confidence

As varsity soccer coach of Ryerson University, Dr. Ivan Joseph is constantly asked what the most important skill he looks for in a recruits is. His answer is simple: self-confidence. Today, Ignitia takes a closer look at Dr. Joseph’s ideas about what makes self-confidence, and summarizes the TED Talk he conducted which has been viewed more than 12 million times.

How It’s a Skill

According to Dr. Joseph, self-confidence is a skill. And without this skill, a player can never be great. This is because, as Dr. Joseph defines it, self-confidence is the, ‘ability to believe in your ability to accomplish any task no matter the odds, no matter the difficulty, and no matter the adversity.’ According to Dr. Joseph, it is no accident he refers to this as a skill. He does so, because he believes self-confidence can be learned and developed, just like any other skill.

How to Develop Self-Confidence

According to Dr. Joseph, the easiest way to build self-confidence is by repetition. There is no magic pill. Here Dr. Joseph reinforces Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that in order to become an expert in anything, one must devote 10,000 hours to learning the skill. According to Dr. Joseph, by practicing and improving repeatedly towards a set goal one will not help but improve. It is in recognizing these improvements that self-confidence is made.

Develop a Personal Mantra

Dr. Joseph also describes another method for developing self-confidence: self-talk. According to Dr. Joseph, it is far too easy to talk down to oneself, and we do this constantly. However, according to Dr. Joseph, the truly successful people are the ones who speak in a self-affirming manner to themselves. For an example of this, Dr. Joseph points to the self-affirming mantra of Muhammad Ali – I am the greatest. According to Dr. Joseph, no one is more vested in your own success than you. This being the case, you must be the number one person championing for yourself. If we will not affirm our own greatness, how can we possibly expect anyone else to? We must do it for ourselves. That is our responsibility.

So, how can we build this self-confidence? For one, Dr. Joseph recommends getting away from people who tear you down. This includes our negative selves. To do this, Dr. Joseph suggests writing down your greatest accomplishments and posting them somewhere you will be reminded of them constantly. Also, he suggests the power of a personal mantra, such as Lance Armstrong’s, Live Strong. He suggests creating a mantra for yourself and also putting it somewhere you will see it continuously.

Building Self-Confidence in Another

Aside from simply building self-confidence in one’s self, Dr. Joseph suggests it is possible to build self-confidence in another as well. To do this, Dr. Joseph recommends ignoring times when another fall short, and instead reinforcing the times they do well. By praising the positive behavior we are trying to reinforce, and by catching others when they are in this act of doing good, Dr. Joseph suggests others who witness this praise will be more likely to repeat the same behavior in the future. To support this, Dr. Joseph points to a study done by the Kansas State football team where the team was first shown all the mistakes they had made. According to Dr. Joseph the improvement made by showing the team what they had done wrong was minimal. Then, for another period of time, the team was shown only the things they did right. According to Dr. Joseph, the improvement thereafter was substantial.

Finally, Dr. Joseph suggests self-confident people interpret feedback the way they choose to. According to Dr. Joseph, even when rejected, self-confident people will not view rejection as the final word. They will instead interpret the event as not having been accomplished because they did not approach the goal in the correct way. According to Dr. Joseph, self-confident people will adjust this approach and try again until the goal is met. As a final word, Dr. Joseph relates the only thing that makes the difference is in those with self-confidence and those without it, is a belief in one’s self.

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