The feeling of self-confidence is not necessarily the prerequisite to, or result of, being at your best.
Self-confidence is not the measure of competence; it is a lack of self-doubt, the inner assuredness of one’s ability. Competence is the wherewithal to carry through based on one’s ability and skill. We can feel self-confident yet lack competence; on the other hand, a person can be competent without an associated feeling of self-confidence.
A public speaker, for example, may have the greatest self-confidence imaginable, walking fully upright with shoulders square, dressed for success, and well-spoken with a commanding voice. On one particular speaking engagement, a public figure who was obviously at ease with being the center of attention, addressed a packed house. Strangely, one by one, the audience members began to yawn and look around; some got up from their seat and walked for the exit, others fell fast asleep. The self-confident speaker looked good, sounded good, but delivered no substance and the audience responded accordingly. The following week, a different public speaker – well-known to suffer from stage fright – addressed the same crowd on the same topic but with average clothes and walked with a slightly embarrassing limp. After the closing remarks, the audience members spontaneously stood to their feet with a deafening applause of gratitude. The speaker tried to leave but their applause grew louder and louder in hopes of hearing more from this humble person. They were so thankful for the truth and wisdom they received, for the true sincerity of someone who was scared to death even to stand up there, let alone speak to them.
All too often, we choose our mate, our friends, and public leaders, based not on their substance – the backbone of competence – but instead on how they appear, including their level of self-confidence. Self-confidence is appealing; it is desirable and often necessary, but is an asset only when accompanied by authenticity, humility, substance – competence.