The Confidence to Start

If you have to choose between being overconfident in your abilities or lacking confidence, it’s better to be overconfident.

If you lack confidence, then you will not try. You will have already failed in your mind, and by picturing failing in your mind, you will give up before you have even tried.

It isn’t polite to suggest that one be overconfident. It smacks of arrogance, maybe even the kind of arrogance that comes from the incompetent who blusters about how exceptional are their skills. But that isn’t the kind of overconfidence you need to give things a go. The kind of overconfidence I am referring to is the kind that propels you to take action, well aware that you might fail, but deeply believing that you can figure things out and succeed.

The kind of overconfidence I am talking about reminds me of a quote from Zig: “Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.” In this story, there is a dangerous whale, a boat that is too small for the mission, and the confidence that would cause you to bring the condiments necessary for when you finally succeed. There is nothing here that guarantees success or a reasonable timeline.

No one who masters their craft does so on the first try. Nor do they gain competency—or mastery—without first failing. They live on the plateau far longer than they would like, and much of the time they are not aware of the progress they are making. Over time, their competence grows to match their confidence, a competence that cannot grow and develop without the courage to try.

Those who achieve mastery all have one thing in common: they had enough confidence to believe in themselves and start.

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