CONFIDENCE: The Second Trait of Mental Toughness

"Confidence is the feeling you sometimes have before you fully understand the situation."

On a scale of 1 to 10 where do you score your confidence? The hardest thing for many is understanding what confidence is and how it plays a vital role in developing mental toughness. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines confidence as:

  1. “A feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances,

  2. “faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way,” and…

  3. “the quality or state of being certain.”

I define confidence as my personal belief that I have what it takes to overcome any obstacles that get in my way as I go after my goals. I may win and I may lose but the important thing to remember is that I have the confidence to at least try.


What I have learned about confidence is that when you have a high level of confidence you are able to bounce back from setbacks, mistakes, and poor performance much quicker than those with low confidence levels.

Highly successful people normally have a high level of confidence in their ability to win but, aren’t born this way. I like to say they’ve earned it and others say they've learned it. They gain their confidence through repeatedly putting themselves in the game, taking the risks and learning from their failures. Overtime, knowing that you have been down a similar road before, studying and learning from those past experiences can be a great confidence builder in whatever you do – business deals, sports, relationships, education and in just about any endeavor you can think of.

The thing about confidence is that it is an essential quality if you want to succeed in building mental toughness. I believe it is one of the most critical traits, not only in developing mental toughness but is essential when setting high goals and persevering to achieve them.

Another thing I have learned about confidence is that the saying “birds of a feather flock together” is true. Whether it was in business, coaching sports or during my time in the military, confident people tended to associate both personally and professionally with others that have the same high levels of confidence. I have also learned that, “you become who you associate with.” I have observed individuals with low levels of confidence assigned to teams having highly confident team members transformed into confident individuals.

Your confidence shines through in the way you carry yourself which most times is the determining factor in whether you win or lose. When you confidently demonstrate self-control over your emotions, your actions and the situation, others take notice. They recognize you as a leader that they are willing to trust and follow.

Individuals with low confidence complain about everything. They will typically show off to get attention and recognition. Many times, they will turn to destructive habits such as drug or alcohol abuse. They constantly seek praise or approval. The biggest and most damaging trait of those with low confidence is self-pity which guarantees defeat in whatever the situation. Once you let thoughts of quitting into your mind, you are halfway to failing. When you feel sorry for yourself, you begin the process of destroying your confidence and guaranteeing your own downfall.

Your confidence is the result of your life experiences and actions. Your confidence can be increased but, it takes work. The good thing is it can be changed in months, even weeks. There is no guarantee you will be able to improve your confidence, everyone is different. There is no set formula but, if you work hard at the following three things you might be surprised:

  1. Set personal and professional goals. Everyone needs a starting point and a target. Most importantly you simply need to decide it’s time to get started on whatever it is.

  2. Prepare yourself. Once you know what your starting point and target are you need to chart your course. What’s it going to take? I have found that finding out what it takes to achieve the goal is a confidence builder in itself.

  3. Visualize your success. Your success depends on your ability to visualize yourself succeeding. If you can’t you fail but, if you can then anything is possible.
You can directly change your level of confidence, all you need to do is believe it.

You can listen to the audio version of this post at Jeff Heiser Radio Podcast 96.