Confidence: When in doubt, punt?

There’s an old adage in football, when in doubt punt? While punting does give the ball to the other team, it does something more important, it buys the punting team time to think, to regroup and establish a new game plan.

Overcoming a natural tendency

In everyday life punting’s equivalent is pausing. That’s not something we do naturally. Indeed, for most of us our natural tendency is to respond quickly, act quickly, press harder to get the result we desire.

More often than not, this tendency buys us regret, not results. Or at least, an undesired result. We can overcome this natural tendency by noticing that when we pause before speaking, before acting, before trying to force a solution, we end up with good results instead of regrets.

For it’s when we become conscious of the fact that our natural tendency consistently produces regret while pauses produce favorable results, that we learn to pause when in doubt, when we feel pressured to act, when, in frustration, we press harder for a result.

What the pause does

Here’s what the pause does for you. It:

  • Alleviates whatever stress you’re feeling.
  • Enables you to remain calm and cool under pressure.
  • Opens your mind to possibilities.
  • Helps you frame your responses and actions in ways that benefit all involved.
  • Increases your confidence in your ability to produce favorable results in any situation.
  • Earns the respect of others for your ability to remain calm, and produce amazing results, regardless of how dire the situation is or how frantic those around you are.

That’s a lot of benefit from a simple pause.

Why it works

Recall a time when you felt doubt, overwhelmed, stressed out, out of control. How would you describe your thoughts? Were they lucid and focused or more like a pinball bouncing around aimlessly? Were you feeling energized or emotionally drained? Were you calm or frantic?

You know as well as I do that none of these good feelings existed when you felt stressed, but when you paused you quickly experienced:

  • A myriad of potential solutions to the challenge you were facing.
  • Calm fell over you. You no longer felt harried. You were back in control.
  • An interest in the welfare of others involved as well as consideration of how each potential solution would impact them.
  • Greater confidence, not only in the solution you crafted, but in your ability to structure things to benefit all involved.
  • Others ready acceptance of your ideas which further enhanced your confidence in yourself and your abilities.

I’m not asking you to trust me on this, you’ve experienced this yourself. Now let’s make it work more consistently for you and the kids in your life.

For you

When in doubt or stressed, remind yourself that you will eventually pause and regain emotional control, if for no other reason than you exhaust yourself while trying unsuccessfully to deal with the stress. When you pause your full mental capacity returns, so why not choose to pause now rather than wait for exhaustion to effect the pause? As you remind yourself of this reality you’ll find that you’ll make a conscious decision to:

  • Pause.
  • Allow ideas to flow quickly and naturally into your thoughts.
  • Become calm and, once again, feel in control.
  • Shift from your egocentric behaviors to other-centric behaviors.
  • Enjoy the benefits of being confident.
  • Gain the respect and admiration of others who don’t possess this ability.
  • Teach others this simple technique.

For our kids

As you see kids wrestling with doubt, stress and feelings of being overwhelmed, ask them to pause and take a deep breath. After they pause, ask them whether they’re experiencing ideas about how to deal with whatever is creating the doubt, fear and anxiety? Ask them if they feel more calm and in control.

Then let them know that they have the power to use the pause anytime they choose to replace their doubts, fear and anxiety with calm and being in control…that when they pause they return their minds to full capacity.

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.

2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, I love the analogy that you use here to describe a common issue for a lot of folks.
    It seems like people are so concerned about falling behind that they think that everything has to be acted on right away or they are falling behind. By not thinking things through, they frequently make bad decisions. The next time I am tempted to act before I think I’m going to punt!

    • Dale Furtwengler

      Emotional decisions are almost always bad decisions. Kudos to you for allowing yourself time to pause, let the emotion subside before making your decision. Happy punting!

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