I didn’t really plan on writing about this book, The Confidence Gap, and it’s not because the information in it wasn’t valuable, but to me, it just wasn’t anything new. This is in no way to sound snobbish, but I’ve read (more than I can remember really) so many books that talk about confidence, motivation, and self-development.
Although every book I’ve read typically puts a new twist that comes with both new stories and new perspectives, all in all, the main takeaway seems to be always be the same.
- Confidence is developed over time
- You need to practice in order to improve.
- You need to block out the haters and unconstructive criticizers.
There’s usually more to that list, but these are by far the most common themes.
So, while I was reading the final chapters within the book, I was more or less ready to move on, and most likely forget most of the details of this slightly generic book on confidence. Then he says something profound.
He explains about developing confidence but compares it to a similar mechanism that you would use to build motivation.
Let me explain.
Russ Harris, the author, explains that confidence is not actually the end goal. Your goal is not to be “confident”, but to act in a way that most aligns with your values. What does he mean?
What he means by this is let’s say you’re afraid of public speaking, but your goals in life are to say, start a non-profit. Well, part of starting a non-profit would probably include a lot of presentations and speaking in front of large groups of people, thus the lack of confidence would for sure be a major setback.
While becoming confident in public speaking should be a goal for you, especially if you’re afraid to begin with, it’s not the end goal. That’s because if your only goal was to become confident at speaking in front of a large crowd, once you’ve attained that goal, then you need to find a new target to aim at.
Again, while this isn’t such a bad thing, it can and usually does lead to sort of an aimless-ness feeling. You might feel your goals are changing too much that a sense of instability starts to sweep over. You feel sort of rootless.
And to relate this to motivation, it actually is very, very similar. This is because goals and motivation are intrinsically tied to each other.
The two things that are often mentioned together are motivation and discipline. Motivation is the catalyst to action, and repeated action over time is the key to discipline. But this can only be achieved when your goals and values align.
And this is what blew my mind. And it’s so simple. It’s so mind-blowingly simple, I can’t believe I never articulated it this way.
Motivation is always only temporary. When motivation dies out, we need to rely on our discipline to our goal to push us forward. But if our goals don’t align with what we actually value, then the discipline will never be there.
If you want to learn guitar, but you don’t actually value the true art of it; you don’t appreciate all the genres and the legends who lived them, then you’ll never actually learn. Yes, you might pick it up from time, but there’s a difference between the way Jimi Hendrix values guitar and the guy who “just wants to learn it” values it.
Again, this could also mean you’ve not yet developed the discipline as well. Maybe you do value guitar as much as Hendrix, maybe even more so. But you don’t have enough hours under your belt; enough practice to ingrain the behavior into your identity.
So this leads me to this question…
If you’re lacking motivation, does this mean you lack discipline, or do you need to change your values?
And I don’t know if there’s a straightforward answer to that, but I feel that if you ask yourself sincerely enough, you’ll get your answer. It’s the same kind of answer you get when you genuinely ask yourself: Am I happy?
No matter what answer you give, you’ll know if you’re lying to yourself or not.
And that’s the message I want to share with you today.
Thanks for reading,