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Not so long ago, I shared some thoughts on doing something for the first time.

This is somewhat of a sequel to that post.

I'd like to explore how we become confident.

Specifically, how we become confident in something we've never done before.

Suppose you need to have a difficult conversation with someone.

This is often a gross feeling. Especially if you've never had it with this person you need to have it with.

You might be unsure of how it's going to go, so you do a lot of prep ahead of time. Perhaps a few practice runs of what exactly you want say, possibly read a few things about having difficult conversations, and then you're finally ready to do it.

What does being ready really mean in this case?

You're feeling prepared, sure. Are you feeling confident?

If you spent more time preparing, would you feel more confident?

If confidence is something you need to build up through preparation before trying the hard thing, if it were like the battery charge on a phone, how would you know when it's at 100%?

Often, time is a constraint. You know you need to have the hard conversation on or by a certain date, and so that creates a preparation constraint.

So you might stop preparing because you run out of time.

What if time wasn't a constraint?

Alright, enough with the questions.

I was listening to a wonderful podcast with Adam Grant and Reese Witherspoon recently, where the topic of confidence came up.

Reese shared the idea that confidence is what we gain after we try the hard thing.

This really struck me, and has been sitting with me ever since.

Until I heard it put this way, I had been thinking of confidence as something you need to build up before trying the hard thing.

Especially if the hard this is a new thing. A first time thing.

So, suppose you need to have a difficult conversation with someone new.

The old model of confidence would say: prepare, and keep preparing until your time constraint runs out or until you feel ready—whenever that is.

The updated model of confidence would say: just have the conversation.

Confidence is an outcome, not a prerequisite.

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