Thereâ€™s nothing more demotivating than the prospect of failure. Most of us wonâ€™t take a step further if we know that thereâ€™s a likelihood we wonâ€™t even make it to the finish line, and why would we? If failure is certain, weâ€™d rather not waste our energy.
But failure is almost always never certain â€“ itâ€™s common, but not certain. And, as researchers point out (and countless business people who have succeeded against the odds will attest to), itâ€™s your ability to ignore the possibility of failure and push on that will make your achievements that much more certain. Put simply: you are more likely to attempt something if you think you can achieve it. Furthermore, youâ€™ll obviously be more likely to achieve something if you attempt it. The difference, say researchers, is confidence.
â€œConfidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action,â€ says Richard Petty, a distinguished university professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at The Ohio State University.
While there are a raft of other emotions that will also help push you out into the deep-end (courage may be another, Richard points out), itâ€™s confidence that underpins oneâ€™s ability to actually get things done. Itâ€™s actually more important than actual ability.
Take this fascinating study, for example.
In 2011, research psychologist Zachary Estes was investigating howÂ male and female confidence levels affect results. In a series of 500 spatial puzzles, men outscored women. Crucially though, Zachary found that the women had done poorly because there were a number of questions that were unattempted. When the experiment was repeated under the caveat that all questions had to be attempted, the women’s results matched the menâ€™s, with a noticeable increase. Sure, this was used to illustrate gender differences in confidence, but itâ€™s telling that achievement was measurably increased once some kind of forced confidence was included.
The moral? Believe in yourself a little more â€“ thatâ€™s the first step to success.