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Striking a Balance Between Confidence and Challenge


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When listening to either Anthony Robbins or Jim Rohn (amounts others), there are two things that immediately stand out. The first of these is the confidence with which these men present themselves and their capabilities, almost as if they were in complete control of every facet of their lives. The second thing that immediately comes to the fore is their incredibly confrontational approach to improvement, perhaps encapsulated best by Rohn's famous quote, "Never wish life were easier, wish that you were better." Sure, that seems easy enough to say, doesn't it? Two incredibly confident and capable men who have achieved tremendous success doing what they want with their lives instructing everyone else from their soapboxes. However, the trick to this approach lies in the relationship between these two dynamics.

I'm a graduate student, which, between all of my own reading, research, writing, applying for grants, teaching, and grading, can become pretty overwhelming. My first year or two of graduate school left me feeling like a jellyfish, just being swept along by the currents of academia with no control over my own life. I wondered how best to summon the confidence and willpower to take back the reins of my own life when I finally came to the realization after listening to a few motivational speakers. Whereas, I had always assumed that confidence was born of surmounting challenges, in fact, challenges can only exist if you have confidence. Wow, that sounds a bit cryptic, doesn't it? What I mean is that changing how you view the obstacles in your life really matters to how you approach yourself and your future. When you look at difficulties in your life as insurmountable, they are and confidence cannot grow because you're giving it no fertile ground. However, if you tweak the way you view your problems, looking at them as challenges which can be conquered eventually (even if they are really difficult or will take a long time), you give yourself space to cultivate confidence. This process then becomes a positive circle. With more confidence, challenges don't seem quite as daunting, which in turn fosters even more confidence, and so on!

This way of looking at things has certainly made graduate school a completely different animal for me. Instead of dreading the next assignment or research topic, I now get excited at the prospect of challenging myself and feel much more confident about my abilities as a scholar. I know this was a bit long-winded, but I hope this made sense and that this can help someone out there! Let me know if you have had similar experiences!