The Confidence Factor- Clarity, Confidence & Competence (Part 1)

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It gets to us all at some time or another. The feeling that maybe you don’t quite have what it takes to make it happen. Perhaps you have just entered a competition, and all of the sudden a little voice pipes up saying, “What we’re you thinking! You’re completely out of your league!”

Or maybe you are struggling to get to the next phase of your riding but fear and anxiety make it feel like a physical impossibility.

It could even be that you are at the top of your game but a pesky seed of self doubt is holding you back from being the rider you know that you are capable of being.

Confidence- or more to the point, a lack of it- is a right kicker. When you’re in the midst of a confidence crisis, it can easily feel that everyone around you is busy qualifying for the Olympics while you are slumped across the mounting block at home begging the Confidence Fairy to come and tap you with her wand. The good news, however, is that confidence is a skill. It’s not something that you either have or you don’t. And it’s definitely not a case of waiting for the Confidence Fairy. Instead, it’s an emotion just like any other that exists as a result of us operating within a very specific framework- one that is both individually unique and easy to practically apply once you recognize the cooperative components and then seek to actively engage them.

When it comes to creating a strategy to cultivate confidence, more often than not, competence and confidence are grouped together, but they are actually two very separate parts worthy of individual attention. Whilst confidence is an emotional state and something that we are able to train ourselves to activate at will, competence relates to our skill level, and is consequently time dependent. For instance, if I am wanting to master a specific movement, or ride at a certain level in any discipline, then it follows that I will need to both learn and practice the necessary elements required for a period of time before I reach the required stage of competency and proficiency. On a physical level, there is a time period that exists in order for me to develop the motor skills and for the new neural pathways to form that allow me to execute that skill as a fluid and familiar action.

Whilst at first glance, it may seem that competency is required in order to feel confident, this is not actually the case. Being confident does not mean you have to know all the answers. It does not mean you always have to come out winning, or be able to do everything you feel you need to “right now”. And it certainly does not mean that you will never feel anxious, afraid or unsure.

Instead, confidence means that you maintain a level of internal resourcefulness that tells you that no matter what comes up, you will handle it. It means that you operate from a platform that sees you open to ongoing opportunity and learning. In essence, confidence allows you to back yourself; it allows you to remain open, centred and willing to take continual positive action in the direction that you desire.

In the very first instances when it comes to cultivating confidence, we need a road map, a plan; something that we can follow to take us from where it is that we are now to where we want to be. Formulating an effective strategy begins with identifying your “stuck points” and then working out how to deal with those specific elements. In order to do so, we need clarity; clarity not only on what is wanted, but also clarity on what is needed. Many riders that I work with ride around in a haze of ambiguity of what it is they actually want, and even more confusion exists as to how to actually get there if they do know what they want.

Addressing what I call “The 3 C’s”- clarity, competence and confidence- is vital when it comes to conditioning yourself for confidence and success. Let’s do a quick recap and break them down piece by piece:

A lack of clarity comes from not knowing what you want to do or specifically want or how you want to get there.

A lack of confidence arises when you are held back by doubts, concerns or worries, and feel unable to effectively manage your focus.

A lack of competency is lacking the skill base or not knowing how to do what you want to do.

With this in mind, if you are feeling stuck ask yourself:

What is the specific challenge that I am facing? Do I know what it is that I am trying to achieve?

Are the limitations that I am experiencing due to a lack of confidence? Do I feel as though I have the ability to follow through? Is my mindset the main issue here?

Do I have the skills and the know- how to make this happen? If not, what do I need to learn and whom can I get to help me?

I always say that the amount you are “thrown off” by any situation or circumstance is directly related to how steady you were prior. In essence, what we want to do is develop an effective and practical strategy that allows us to take ongoing action in the direction we desire, in conjunction with consistently applying the mental skills we need to create mental strength and resilience. Analysing the three C’s and understanding how they inform your consequent plan moving forward is vital.

Without clarity, we have no clear understanding of what it is we want to achieve.

Without competence, we will be unable to follow through on what is required.

And without confidence, you can have the skills and the talent, but it’s unlikely you will make the kinds of decisions you need to make, or take the kinds of actions you need to take to recognize and fulfill your full potential.

Truly being able to consistently operate from a confident mindset and commit yourself to constant positive action takes practice. Primarily, the skills we need to hone relates to our ability to effectively manage our emotional state and to frame each ride and challenge within an empowering context, which is what we are going to explore in Part Two of this series.

xx Jane

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