I've been thinking about this a lot lately. For a few different reasons. Largely because I've struggled with it on and off for one reason or another over the last 10 years.
I thought I would share my experience with the creation of self-belief. Which sounds a little airy-fairy when I write it down. But hang in there with me.
I'd like to look at this from two sides of a coin. Either side, more or less get's the same outcome, but the journey to it - well let's see.
Now I am largely coming at this from a performance angle, remembering that "performance" is absolutely and unequivocally relative to the individual.
So how do we create self-belief? One that's so unbreakable, when shit is well and truly hitting the fan, it's rock solid. When every part of your brain and body is telling you to lie down and do nothing, you keep going?
For me, it revolves around word choice
...a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities
...Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation
Let's talk about confidence. I have always found it fascinating when people ask me if I am feeling "confident", about my next race. What do they really mean? Has my training gone well? Do I think I can win?
See the thing about Confidence is that it's a roller coaster. One that is affected by a magnitude of external and internal circumstances. If I have one bad workout do I lose my so-called confidence? If the start of the race doesn't go how we thought, am I working too hard too early, is the weather worse than I had planned for. See when we rely solely on confidence for self-belief we are easily tipped over.
The other part of this is that if my build-up hasn't gone well and I am relying on inner confidence, the race is all but over before the gun goes. If I drop my gel halfway, my confidence in reaching the next one is compromised.
You get the idea. I've done my best to avoid dwelling on confidence, it's a false sense of security built on a house of cards.
Onto Courage, and yes I can hear you groaning. Oska has lost the plot...
Well maybe I have, but hear me out. What if you build the entirety of a performance-based on being courageous. What does that mean? It means giving absolutely everything you have to achieve what it is you set out to do.
See with Courage, it's a steady, sustainable reach for self-belief. I'll use my Christchurch Marathon example. Almost everything that could ruin my confidence did. I was injured, my last 2 workouts were average, the weather was terrible, the course was underwater and I knew that I was unlikely to get anywhere close to running sub 2:16 to make a play at the World Championships. In fairness, I had 0 confidence in achieving what I had set out to do 16 weeks before. So much so I dabbled with not doing it at all. With Confidence at rock bottom, I turned to my handwritten notes from a meeting with Mental Skills Coach John Quinn. He always pops out little gems, so taking notes is the only way I can remember them.
We'd obviously talked about my lack of confidence 4 weeks from the event, and that I was struggling internally with the task at hand, the pressure I felt (internally and externally) as well as a body and mind that was starting to tetter on the edge.
In capitals I had written HAVE COURAGE... See decision making is easy when you have clarity and clarity comes from simplicity. Courage I can control and its simple. Confidence I can't and it's complicated.
Matt and I had talked about the "Quinny Mindset". (It's a real thing, I hear you laughing). My Quinny mindset was simple. Show Courage and tackle it head-on.
Michael Jaques in the following press release has suggested it be the bravest run the race has ever seen. For me, that had solidified I achieved what I set out to do. Run as fast as I could, for as long as I could, giving everything I could.
Courage, not confidence invites you to set a goal, courage not confidence gets you to the start line and courage is what builds a steady flow of self-belief.
Every decision you make, make it, and show courage. If I relied on confidence I would struggle to leave the house some days. Be brave in setting your goal, create a well-built platform of self-belief, and go kick the ass out of it.
As always, I am here if you need me.