On one occasion, I was talking to a rather successful businessman who shared with me a business problem.
The issue was in one of the many foreign countries where he was doing business.
He was perplexed because he realized he had, for some time, forgotten something very important to him.
As a matter of fact, it was vital to him, and yet he had no recollection of it. That very night, he had a very vivid dream in which he met with a friend of his from his past.
“I didn’t know you had such a talent, Martin,” he said. “You must learn to be confident.”
“Confident? What do you mean?” “Martin, you must be confident.” “I am confident of a few things,” he replied, “but not of myself.”
His friend said, “Look, you must be confident of the things that are essential to you. You must be confident in yourself.
You have nothing more to lose. Confidence is not about others’ opinions of you. It’s about you being positive about yourself.
Always have a goal in mind. The key is to be confident of the things that are essential to you.”
Isn’t that interesting?
In our day we have heard so much about confidence.
We’ve read so many quotes about the power of confidence that we’ve come to believe that confidence in general, and the need for it, is an important part of human life.
So we’ve asked our children, “Do you have confidence in yourself?” They say, “Yes!” I ask, “How do you define confidence?”
They reply, “Confidence is the belief that you can achieve your goals.” “And, so?” I say.
“That’s all fine and good, but how do you act on that belief?” They shrug and say, “It’s good, but I don’t really have confidence in myself.”
What we have to do, then, is to grow in our faith.
Confidence isn’t about other people
Confidence means something completely different when it is not linked to other people.
Confidence is not about other people; it’s about ourselves. A person with self-confidence thinks about himself; he believes in himself.
When you’re confident, you look ahead and focus on what is important in your life.
We all know very confident people. They feel they can take on the world.
They’ve got great strength, great power. They have all the answers.
They’ve got everything under control. They are always strong, they never need help.
Now, what they don’t have is self-confidence.
When the confidence in yourself is based on other people, it’s a very different thing.
It’s about other people’s approval. If you are confident of yourself when the opinion of others is high, you will act accordingly.
If you’re confident of yourself when others’ opinions are low, you’ll act accordingly.
But when your confidence is based on your own judgment, you will act according to your own judgment.
You will never find it easy to see through your own limitations. You will never find it easy to meet your own failures.
This type of confidence is not about other people’s opinions of you. It’s about you being positive about yourself.
Self-confidence is a very difficult thing to achieve. It has to be built over time.
It has to be developed by serious daily practice.
It has to be the result of many thousands of successful decisions, and even if it is achieved, it will never be as great as it can be when you truly believe in yourself.
People who are not satisfied
Let me give you an illustration.
Many years ago, in a country far, far away, I had the privilege of speaking at a conference for a very successful English couple who lived in South America.
They’d spent many years living in England, working with great professors and making their way in the world.
They’d traveled the world, lived in different parts of the world, studied languages, read great books, spent time with philosophers, traveled to the Himalayas, even backpacking through Europe.
They were a very impressive couple.
The husband was a professor at a university, and his wife was a physician.
They were always traveling, learning, developing new skills, always interested in learning. They were exceptionally happy.
As I left the conference I approached them and said, “I’m sorry we couldn’t spend more time with you.
Maybe we’ll see you in the next year or two. Have a good trip.” They smiled and said, “We’d love to, but we’re not going to be in South America for a while.”
I asked, “Where are you going?” They told me they were going on a year-long trip around the world.
When I asked why, they explained, “We don’t need money. We’ve got everything we need. We have a beautiful house in a beautiful country.
We can do whatever we want to do. We’re not really interested in the things of this world. We’re going on this trip to find out what is beyond all natural things. We want to see what is the purpose of life.”
I thought, What wonderful people! They’re certainly going to see things that will help them build their faith in life and raise their confidence.
They’re certainly going to be sobered up by their own fears and failures. I hoped they would be truly enlightened by their experiences.