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The Skill of Self-Confidence

Guiding Question: What is the most important skill someone can have? What is the one skill you need to achieve all of your goals?

College athletic director and national champion soccer coach Dr. Ivan Joseph is often asked what skills he is searching for from potential college athletes: Is it vision? Speed? Have a great shot? 

In Dr. Joseph's TEDx Talk titled The Skill of Self-Confidence, he says the most important skill is self-confidence - the belief that you can accomplish any task no matter the odds, difficulty, or adversity.

To be great at anything, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and make mistakes, and if you don’t have self-confidence, you either won’t put yourself out there to the level you need to, or you won’t be able to bounce back from adversity as quickly or as strong as you need to. Dr. Joseph calls self-confidence a skill because we can learn how to have it and grow it like any other skill.

Confidence comes from success. When we do good, we feel good and our confidence grows. But when our confidence is built on success and results, our confidence can be shaky and built on something that is possibly outside of our control.

Pastor Edward McManus says, “When you build your confidence on talent, you become arrogant. Confidence is actually built on discipline, not on talent. When you actually build your confidence on your discipline, your preparation, on your character, it becomes unshakable.”

Confidence built on discipline, preparation, and character is unshakable because no one can take that away from you. You can’t control if you are the biggest, strongest, and fastest, but you can control how hard you are willing to work and compete, so build your confidence on things you can control.

How do you do that? How do you build unshakable confidence?

1 - Repetition, Repetition, REPETITION

Dr. Joseph shared a story about a Colombian goalie with hands like stones and how through practice, time, and repetition, he became a professional goalie. The goalie was terrible at catching the ball, a very important skill for a goalie to have, so every day he would kick the ball against the wall and catch it. His goal was to do that 350 times every day for 8 months. The goalie with terrible hands eventually became a professional goalie in Europe.

If you want to have more confidence, practice more. The easiest way to build self-confidence is repetition. The problem is most people either aren’t willing to put in the work or they quit at the first sign of failure.

Dr. Joseph asks, “How many of us bail after the first bit of failure? How many of us bail after the first bit of adversity?”

Everyone who has achieved something great has failed many times on their journey. Practice, practice, practice, and do not accept failure.


We all have a self-talk tape that plays non-stop in our heads. Is your tape negative or positive? Dr. Joseph says. “There’s enough people telling us we can’t do it - that we’re not good enough… Why do we want to tell ourselves that?” Our thoughts influence actions, so why would we ever tell ourselves we can’t do something?

Best-selling author Robin Sharma says, “No one will believe in you until you believe in you. And when you start believing in you, the world will start believing in you.”

He says starting your day reflecting on and celebrating your wins retrains and reprograms your brain to find the victories, and celebrating the little victories creates positive momentum.

You are the captain of your ship and the master of your fate. If you don’t say it and believe it, no one else will. Every day, tell yourself something positive, and every day, fight to keep the negative thoughts and negative energy away. That might mean keeping some of the negative people in your life away as well.

Do everything you can to protect your vision, inspiration, and belief in yourself.

Dr. Joseph once wrote a Self-Confidence letter to himself in which he bragged about some of his most meaningful accomplishments, and when he doesn’t feel confident, he reads the letter to himself.

Author Jon Gordon uses I AM statements. He once had the University of Texas football team start their season by saying, “I am _____,” and allowed them to fill in the blank with whatever they wanted. They made it all the way to the national championship game that year.

You are what you think you are, and you can do what you think and believe you can do. Think the best about yourself.


In Michael Jordan’s Failure commercial, he said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”

In his Maybe It’s My Fault commercial, he says, “Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I led you to believe it was easy when it wasn’t. Maybe I made you think my highlights started at the free throw line, and not in the gym. Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game-winner; that my game was built on flash and not fire. Maybe it’s my fault that you didn’t see that failure gave me strength; that my pain was my motivation. Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God-given gift and not something I worked for every single day of my life. Maybe I destroyed the game, or maybe you’re just making excuses.”

You can’t be great without failure, so don’t let failure or the fear of failure hold you back. Resilience is your ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. It’s hard to beat someone who is resilient and won’t quit.

When I was growing up, I was told if you were the best player in the gym, find another gym. Find people who are better than you and who will beat you because that is how you get better. Learn something new, try something new, get out of your comfort zone, and develop a healthy relationship with failure.

Don’t run from or shy away from people who are better than you, and don’t run from or shy away from opportunities that seem out of your reach because of fear; seek them.

Don’t run from or shy away from failure - learn from it.


Taking that first step is often the hardest. Fix your mindset so you are as ready to do what you have to do as possible, even if you are afraid. Thinking about past successes is one way to help you get in the right mindset. A breathing technique can also help you center yourself and calm your nerves, and help you focus. Finally, give yourself a countdown and act. When it’s time to do what you have to do, say, “3, 2, 1,” then act before you give yourself out and don’t look back. Often we just have to get started and let the momentum carry us through to the end.

Practice more, talk to yourself in a positive way, be resilient and know mistakes are a part of the process, and don’t shy away from the possibility of failure.


1 - What is one thing you want to get better at and more confident at, and what is something you can commit to doing or practicing every day to get better and more confident?

2 - Create and leverage positive affirmations. What is something you can tell yourself every morning and every night? Write 3 I AM statements briefly describing the person you want to be and what that person will think and do.

3 - Write a Self-Confidence letter to yourself. Write a letter bragging about some of your most meaningful accomplishments and the things you are proud of because we all experience moments where we don’t feel good about who, what, or where we are, and this letter can help you weather those storms.

To access a slide deck to use for yourself and others, click here: The Skill of Self-Confidence Slide Deck

For a PDF version of this post, click here: The Skill of Self-Confidence

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