Perceived risk

I’m not sure I could ever summon the bravery to run into a burning building to save a stranger. That’s why I could never be a firefighter. As much as that news would have devastated me at age four, I’m comfortable with it today. That kind of courage is wiring I don’t have.

But I’ve noticed that confidence doesn’t seem to work that way.

Confidence can be built up over time. Giving a presentation, counseling a student, even taking a standardized test–you can become more confident simply by exposing yourself to the situation often enough that it loses its fear factor.

But confidence can also be summoned by acting as if you already have it. If you repeatedly make the choice to behave like a confident person, eventually, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m not suggesting that any of us can or should become different people. We’re not supposed to walk through the world unfazed by anything at all.

But if you’re holding yourself back from doing something because you’re just not confident enough, what would it look like if you acted as if you were? Chances are, you’ll be scared in the moment. But you’ll emerge unscathed in the worst case and exhilarated in the best case. Do that over and over again, and eventually it will become part of your makeup. What once felt risky will become second nature.

Confidence won’t make running into a burning building less dangerous. But it can do wonders for mitigating perceived risk.