Such a beautiful word.
Everyone seems to want it but few know what it takes to obtain it. I compare it to that feeling you get when you see that person on the train that you find attractive. The logical thing to do would be to walk up to that person and introduce yourself, right? However, at the same time something tells you that you can’t or you shouldn’t. Isn’t that peculiar?
Now let’s start with the definition first of all. According to the Oxford dictionary, the word confidence simply means the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something. Taken from the latin word cōnfīdentia, confidence means to confide in something. To trust in something.
Therefore in order to become self-confident, I suppose that would mean you would need to trust in yourself. But how can you trust yourself?
I grew up in a large family. I had three older brothers and three older sisters. My elder brothers were fiercely competitive. Each day we would all compete to see who was the best? Who could run the fastest? Who could do the most press ups? Who had the prettiest girlfriend? I was too shy to go on dates so I always fell short of the latter.
Each summer during the month of June my uncle would hold a family barbecue at his house. It was always a special occasion where the whole family would get to together and have a catch up on life. There would be music, laughter and delicious spicy chicken wings on offer. But the highlight of the barbecue wasn’t the amazing food or the fact that I got to spend quality time with all my family. The highlight of the barbecue was that each year my uncle would organise a table tennis tournament. He would dust off his ping-pong table that he kept tucked away securely in his shed and invite his neighbours and friends round. It was serious stuff.
Now just to clarify. I always called it ping-pong but I know that table tennis is the correct terminology to use. My apologies to the true professionals out there.
Each year I would complete with my brothers for the coveted crown of ping-pong champ and each year I would lose. I would do well against my uncle’s neighbours and friends, but when it came to my brothers I would fail. In fact I would get beaten with ease. On one occasion my eldest brother had beaten me whilst sitting down on a chair.
On a chair?!
Could you imagine that? I couldn’t believe the audacity. Something had to change and change fast. But what could i do to get the upper hand.
It was the day of the summer barbecue and my father walked with me as we made our way up to my uncle’s house. He could see that I was tense. He waited for my three brothers to walk ahead of us.
“Pssst, Son…Come here…”
I looked up at him. My father was tall and he had thick curly grey hair and he sported a groomed moustache.
“Hey Dad…” I glanced at him briefly. My thoughts were elsewhere.
“Keep the ball on the table.” He hissed.
“What?” I replied?
“You try to win every shot but you don’t have to. Just keep the ball in play.”
Keep the ball in play?
My father had watched me lose in the tournament for various years and he finally took the chance to coach me. Nothing else had worked for me so far so I took his advice and decided that I wouldn’t try to win a point but instead keep the ball in play. But how could keeping the ball in play win a game?
I soon discovered that consistency is a powerful mechanism. My focus changed from trying to win, to trying to play.
I became so good at keeping the ball in play that my brother’s began to get frustrated that I was returning all their best shots. We would have rallies that would go on for 5 or 10 minutes and I would always come out on top because my brothers would become impatient and rush their shots.
I got accustomed to dealing with all types of game play. From aggressive shots to delicate spins and drop shots. I could handle it all. My focus would be just to return it to the other side of the table. That was all. I started winning.
I became good. Real good. So good that my brother’s couldn’t beat me anymore. Even till this day.
There was no shot that I couldn’t handle. Through repetition I became consistent. And through consistency I began to trust myself. And when I learnt to trust myself I became confident. Each year I would go into each tournament with confidence. I had seen it all and done it all through constant repetition. I wasn’t tense anymore.
If you find yourself lacking in self-confidence, ask yourself the following question:
How often am I doing the thing that I’m least confident in?
In order to be confident you simply need repetition. Do it again, again and AGAIN. I trusted myself to return those shots to the other side of the table because I was used to doing it. I developed muscle memory. As a result I kept winning.
So if you wan’t to be confident remember these words…
‘Keep the ball in play.’