Key Takeaways:

  • Talent Threshold
  • Great Expectations
  • Sequence of Success

Before every free throw during my college playing days, I’d receive the ball from the official hold it on the outside of my right hip then recite, “Confidence is the key.”

Sometimes it seems as if there are only two states of being: boom or bust.


Confidence plays such an integral role in our everyday successes but seems vaguely understood. The primitive concept is good things lead to positive thoughts while bad things can create turbulence. Our most recent #BookClub on The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson examined the implications of compound interest to build success. Less on the mental approach that leads to success rather than actionable behaviors that can accrue to develop a sustainable advantage. There wasn’t a ton of conversation about when a downturn in the market occurs, or intangible variables that exist limiting positive momentum. As said before, it is easier to be confident when good things continue to happen – coaching becomes exposed when plans go awry.

So, in an effort to grasp more on the psychology while winning and losing author Rosabeth Moss Kanter looks to examine patterns that can emerge after evaluating Fortune 500s to college athletics and professional franchises. As a coach, I am looking to gain more insight on the following thoughts:

  • Common experiences/interactions/traits producing confidence
  • Biological sequences that occur with confidence
  • Changing the mindset, if necessary
  • Fostering a collective culture of confidence while considering each individual

Confidence is the bridge connecting expectations and performance, investment and results.


Talent Threshold

If confidence is the bridge between expectations and performance, then talent is considered the vehicle to get across. Without talent, whatever capacity of the activity, there is really no need to even be on the street. Thus, the foundation for any confidence lies in the allusion of possessing some semblance of talent.

During the upward cycle of success, everyone experiences more continuity, fewer disruptions, less of the start-over again turmoil of turnover. That further reinforces the ability to forge close bonds that release the chemistry of success.


This isn’t new to coaches – but important to remind – our responsibility is to evaluate the talent available and establish expectations (culture) to produce the best possible performances during competition. The question is, if there is a lower level of talent, do you set low levels of expectations to promulgate confidence among the team.

The fundamental task of leaders is to develop confidence in advance of victory, in order to attract the investments that make victory possible – money, talent, support, loyalty, attention, effort, or people’s best thinking.


Great Expectations

Alright, so maybe the talent is quite where you’d hope it to be at first, but there is this discussion of “primitive emotional contagion.” This is an example of imitating the emotions that surround you. Athletes are intuitive. After losses, they expect the next day to be a bit more difficult or hyper-focused than the previous. In the locker room or during any team meeting players usually have an understanding of how it is going to go based on mood, body language, and tone. This applies with confidence. Our emotions are contagious.

Two beliefs shape a positive emotional climate in the workplace: first, that it is possible to meet high standards, and second, that there is a purpose worth achieving.


In our program, we talk a lot about the concept of when talent is neutralized separation comes from our discipline. And when it comes to confidence there is the attachment of purpose, or tangible sensation on how to improve. These improvements can exist in a variety of ways: team chemistry, concept comprehension, or individual skill-development (e.g. drill goal accomplishment). The sense of purpose is often fostered and reinforced by the values emphasized (culture) per the team. When the values start to resonate more with the team, then there is a growing belief that the collective buy-in can lead to continually improving performances. The author (Kanter) references how former Head Coach with the University of North Carolina’s women’s soccer program, Anson Dorrance focused on habits to activate talent. It was the construct of routines and demanding a highly-competitive practice environment that enabled success.

Positive expectations by leaders make people want to rise to the occasion, but people need proof that there is some reality to the expectations.


Sequence of Success

Ever been in a gym or on the field during a winning streak? Not too many people in bad moods. The primitive emotional contagion concept comes into effect with winning. As they say, winning solves problems. Positive energy becomes contagious and the results become the necessary proof. Preparation combined with talent breeds confidence for future success. It is the “perpetuating cycle of advantages” (56).

Psychologists argue that people who learn to win, who expect to win, tend to be more internally directed and intrinsically motivated anyway.


Check out the #BookClub reading #Confidence with @CoachsClimb


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