This might not mean much for those outside the US, but I've just listened to Obama's speech and I am under the influence of the supreme confidence of the man.
Mind you that I used the word confidence and not optimism. Optimism is an attitude that sees everything as good and beautiful, that in the end things will work out for the best. Optimism is wishful thinking, belief. In contrast, confidence is a state of mind that is the product of trusting your judgment and abilities. Optimism is innate or inherited, while confidence is learned and gained.
In sharp contrast with the culture I was brought up in, people in North America (yes, this means you Canadians too) are innately optimistic. Even if this makes for an extremely positive social environment, it does have a negative side. Having a strong belief that things will have a positive outcome makes people underestimate the likelihood that things will go bad. This affects the way they approach things and might cause them to under-prepare or to overlook the warning sign of incoming failure. All this to state that belief is not a substitute for preparation.
On the other hand, confidence is a more ethereal state of mind. It comes and it goes. For most it is hard to achieve and even harder to maintain. However, when you have confidence, a confidence, it allows you to exceed yourself, your expectations and what you can achieve. Confidence also needs to me cultivated, to be maintained. So many times in our lives we live such great moments and fail to ride the wave of awesomeness (thanks Will) that follows it. Most times we forget to give due importance to successes and attribute too much importance to failures. This breaks the chain of events, of emotions that brings confidence.
Yes we can.
I am back to Obama, but just for a bit. That’s obviously a slogan that exudes confidence. But it’s also a collective slogan. And for those of you that read this blog not for the cheap philosophy but for the triathlon-related content, here it comes. For all of you that think that the word “collective” does not belong in this sport, the individualistic triathletes out there, for all of you that like to spell trIathlon, I have a reminder.
Not acknowledging that being part of a group, that having help from others, allows you to achieve a higher level of performance is taking one step away from achieving your goals. This is also about confidence. The confidence you have to have in yourself to be around others of a different ability than yours because that will help you. The confidence you have to have in others that they all have the same goal of personal excellence.
The 2009 season is upon on us, and it’s time to start working towards our goals for next year and beyond:
Yes we can.