Having confidence will make life and its challenges appear easier to attack, allowing one to charge ahead with little reticence. Having determination will give one a voice shouting encouragement in their ear, “keep going--keep going”! There are, however, traps in both confidence and determination.
Confidence can trick you. It can prevent one from preparing properly, or from trying hard enough. Too much confidence can defy your true abilities or put off others a bit. Confidence is best worn on the inside showing through, not draped callously upon your personality.
Determination, on the other hand, can be brutal on your overall happiness. Your determination can make you go off in directions for all the wrong reasons. It’s not good to be determined to get even. It’s not good to go after a prize or be vindictive just because you want to prove a point. Determinism must have properly chosen goals. Misplaced confidence has the most failures. Misplaced determination has the most stress.
Of course we want our children to have both characteristics and to use them wisely. If they have one of these attributes, we concentrate on the other. But getting back to the question, if they are weak in both, which would you choose to emphasize--confidence or determination?
From my book, to be released in April 2015, “The Power of Dadhood”, I discuss confidence.
The Challenge of Confidence
"Self-confidence can be nurtured by introducing your child to challenging experiences, such as hiking the Grand Canyon, cleaning a fish, or joining a drama club. Kids become self-confident when they get over the fear of the unknown, when they overcome an inhibition, and when they accept that they don’t have to be good at everything, because no one has ever been good at everything.
The challenge must not exceed their capacity, or their confidence could diminish. Nor should you mislead them into falsely thinking they’ve achieved a significant success when it was too easily attained. Success does build confidence, but success built on sand will not contribute to your child’s confidence in the long run. Confidence gained by easy victories can be shattered by reality.
It may not be wise to convince your children that they are great artists or athletes if they will be judged more honestly in school or by friends. A more realistic view will not set them up for a fall, a fall from which recovery could be difficult. But, of course, praise any real talent and encourage any talent that shows promise.”
Confidence works both from within (how you feel), and from without (how others see you).
Once again from my book,
Determination--Intend is a stronger word than can.
“Knowing you ‘can’ makes your intentions that much easier, without all the gut-wrenching anxiety. However, many people can, or think they can, but never do. People with a can-do attitude have their wheels greased, but they have no engine if they have no intent. If we Dads and our children have both the engine (intention) and the grease (confidence), we have what we need to move forward. Not only can we get somewhere, but we can get there with little friction.”
Determination can help you to focus and to overcome a lack of confidence.
Which is it?
So, if your child needed both confidence and determination, which would you choose to emphasize? In my experience, if you’re not confident, then at least be determined and confidence will come. If you’re not determined, your confidence is like pajamas—comfortable as you lay around. What saved me was my determination! I was not confident about becoming successful, but I was determined to be so. I was, at the very least, determined to improve my situation in life, that being the only thing about which I was confident.
Although you can nurture a child to have confidence, you can’t let them get behind in their personal development as you do. Again, that’s when determination can help. It's how the military gets many of their recruits through basic training. That’s how the voice in your ear does its job, telling you to “keep going”! Mantras are voices at work, expressing through repetition what you want to achieve. When a goal is met through determination, an increase in confidence will follow. You can ask any graduate of basic military training, any mountain climber, or any Olympic athlete.
There is no wrong answer to my question because we will always want to encourage our kids to have determination, and nurture them to have confidence. Vince Lombardi once said, “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.” Confidence can be with you one day and gone the next, but with determination, one will bridge those gaps. Never stop encouraging or nurturing either characteristic. That’s what makes a mother a mom, and a father a dad!
And someday, you may hear these precious words. “Because of you Dad, I didn’t give up!”