A bag full of confidence

A bag-full of confidence

The lessons I have learnt from the man Usain Bolt since he got on the track is mind blowing if you consider the fact that all he has done really;  is run a race that lasted for less than a minute. This also demonstrates the quantum of meaning that can be captured from a single event. It demonstrates the infinite nature of life and learning. Nothing really has limits because within those seconds of sprinting lies a wealth of learning- I must not stray too far. This one is about confidence– one thing Mr. Bolt has never been short of as far doing what he does best is concerned. My warning though is that this article will disappoint you if you are looking for the usual discussion on confidence.

The titans of performance theory insist that one of the key influences on performance is confidence. It is born out of the belief that one is capable and that one is doing the right thing based on the right choice. Confidence sits comfortably at the very foundation of any achievement. Now if we take away belief from most of the great achievers in the history of mankind, it is possible that the world as we know it will come crumbling down into something significantly different. Belief triggers action and confidence ensure engagement with certainty and power. So if confidence is so important why is it so lacking. Is it a deficiency from birth? In my work as a performance coach, I have had the opportunity to peek under the hood working with some individuals. Knowing that it is generated by various elements of our very being makes it almost shocking that it is in such short supply. It appears though that, we all start off with a bag-full but somewhere along the way, some loose theirs whiles others grow theirs. The factors responsible for this are both internal and external.


With confidence, you have won before you have started – Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Information is a key trigger that releases confidence. When we see somebody with extreme confidence we must begin to ask; what does this person know or perhaps a more loaded question will be; what he or she is thinking? On the part of the honorable Bolt, being raised in a country that produces more world class sprinters than most nations is a key driving factor although not the only one. He has the benefit of many forerunners. Besides that he also has feedback from his trainers, friends and family that ensures his certainty about what he is involved in.

In a documentary I saw recently, Bolt made a profound statement about how having a capability like his can help him play his role in society. The depth of his awareness was interesting given he was only twenty three years old when he made the statement. Most importantly it seems he understood the idea of “Autonomy within integration”. Does this build confidence? The untrained mind could easily be fooled into saying no. But the kind of power such an almost esoteric idea holds is incredible if you understand it correctly. I shall address the matter in a later writing but here is what it means to have confidence based on your integration with a larger whole.

To get the most out of ourselves, we must first understand that:
We all have roles to play and we do need to identify this role in order to fulfill the grand mission that though we are a part of, is beyond us (please do not say this is confusing). We need to acknowledge the unity of all things and how the whole is greater than ourselves- an idea which was captured beautifully by Ken Wilber’s and his Holons idea. This demands that we have a good understanding of ourselves as units of a larger whole with a purpose we must serve in order for the whole to work. This makes us important instantly. Any level of distortion in this area will lead to ambiguity and confusion; and confusion saps confidence and negatively affects performance. We need clarity of purpose, and an awareness that transcends everything else in order to formulate the basis of our very existence. Knowing what power we posses and how to use it; builds confidenceself appreciation and the self esteem we need to engage with power. Confidence rest within the bigger picture of thought in which there is such a thing as internal dialogue. So that what we tell ourselves plays a role but its true source of power is knowledge of ourselves and the larger system we are a part of as well as the certainty of our roles in the larger scheme of things. This is what I have broken down in my writing as occupational and life performance.


If we truly understand the nature of our being as spirits in material bodies, we will know what we are capable of. This is an experience like no other. If we lack confidence therefore, we need to know that it is an absence of self knowledge, and that we are capable of correcting this by changing the images we have of ourselves.

We also need awareness of the much talked about incredible power that lies within and what it is capable of and how to activate it. We need to know the mechanism we posses that can enable the expression this power. We need to know that the use of this power is not just about us; but feeds into a larger picture. And that we are interconnected with everything else as we are made of the one substance. And that our reward depends on the extent to which we have served our purpose in the grand scheme of things as it comes from the larger entity (please do not say this is confusing either).

We need to know; that our very existence depends on the existence of others and as such, there is no need for losers. That we are not here to serve the same purposes, our unique combination will depict a unique mission very different from the next person and therefore we cannot be in competition with each other. Instead, serving each other is where our survival truly lies. Goals must not in any way go against the progress of humanity as a whole as it will mean defect and the effect cannot be a good one. In order to reach high performance therefore, we must live a mission that serves the larger purpose. Living a mission in my experience makes life painless and almost effortless, for every single step you take feels good because it is purposeful. The mission must excite you enough to wake you up in the morning on the right side of your bed almost every day. Your attitude towards this mission must be outrageous in a good way and your high level of discipline must be almost by default.

People around you must be amazed because they cannot understand why you can be so into something they might consider worthless. They don’t understand why walking in the forest all day can be a sensible thing to do. They don’t understand why a certain river is of such concern to you. They don’t understand why a grown man can spend so much time with children. They don’t understand why that building fascinates you so much. Of course they don’t.  They can’t. Yet your confidence that the one thing you must do is spend all your time studying one building must remain intact courtesy internal dialogue. Nothing can shake it. No one can see what you can see. It is a lonely yet exhilarating journey full of certainty.

It is then and only then that the building will begin to reveal its secrets to you. It is then that any occupation will start rewarding you with its treasures. The more you get out of the building or the occupation, the more your confidence will grow. Many only saw the Bolt when he ran in the Beijing Olympic. He has been running much longer than that. He has faced many challenges including loosing races he was expected to win. Some people lose their confidence at that point.

If you have trouble believing how delicate this confidence issue can be, scan through the list of world class athletes, politicians, and others you think of as great people. Find out how many challenges they have had and how their confidence has failed them in the most crucial moments. And how they have had to be rescued by those who understand what is happening to them. Anthony Robbins is in possession of such a list. There is a reason why you are weird and you understanding of it will give you the confidence you need.

About Markus Kennedy Katey

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