The Cycle of Confidence

There is a typical cycle to Confidence and I trace it through the following stages: Knowledge > Practice > Experience > Skill > Confidence.

In the very first stage, a discovery, whether through structured or unstructured learning happens in the brain. Let's call this stage Knowledge. Maybe you had a realisation, observed a behaviour, read a book or attended a class. This is where you encounter new information that be put to use.

The second stage is Practice. Here, you apply what you learned. The more you practice, the more Experience you gain. A couple of conditions need to be present. There should be keen curiosity, interest and observation.

Every time you practice, your brain gets a new data point that will be compared against previous ones, creating a reference framework for you to call upon when making decisions in the future.

Throw a ball against a wall a thousand times and the ball will always leave your hand at a slightly different angle, speed or trajectory. Naturally, the brain takes this all in. But if you are attentive, the process becomes leaner and more inspired.

When you can control the process of how the ball leaves your hand, aim for a particular target or have the ball land with hard impact or grace, this is the Skill stage. Basically, the more control you have over the process and intended outcome, the greater your Skill.

Finally, this leads to Confidence, an emotional reward for reaching a new level and an encouragement to continue improving. All this new information feeds in as new Knowledge and the cycle begins anew.

So, if you're not confident of doing something, step through the stages and ask yourself, where are you stuck?