My Pi-spective on Confidence

Confidence

(A pi-spective is where you write about something using only 314 words)

Confidence is a strange thing. We believe it to be a good thing but it can as easily deceive us. We are confident in our beliefs when they make a good story, and a good story is about consistency rather than completeness. It's about what we want to see.

Which is a good thing for transformational leaders. We need a clear vision in our minds and a strong theory of the future if we hope to create it. But we have to take care that we don't bullsh*t ourselves.

We'll cobble together all sorts of stuff to convince ourselves of the coherency of the self-belief that forms the basis of confidence. The flimsier the evidence the better, because it's easier to fit together. This is the great peril faced by the analytics industry and it's less to do with the statistical rules of confidence as it is with our neurobiology.

We have a tendency to base our confidence in certainty and this is the first thing the careful transformative leader can do. By all means hold a coherent vision of the future in your head as the basis to your confidence. But avoid cultivating feelings of certainty. We find causality everywhere and we often place ourselves in the central role of discovery.

As we go through life we change our memories to fit in with the way we explain to ourselves who and why we are. This sense of understanding the past helps convince us we know the future.

Beware: here be dragons!

We take the word 'confidence' from the latin and its meaning was along the lines of 'having trust or reliance'. This idea of trusting in our selves is about relying on a virtue or positive trait. To trust yourself means accepting yourself. In the modern sense of confidence, this means recognizing that as often as not we're just making stuff up.

Image by Kalyan Varma via Pickle Jar