Confusing Confidence And Desire

It never ceases to amaze me how often people confuse confidence and desire. Here’s a typical exchange with people who blame a lack of confidence for hesitating in the pursuit of a dream.

“I don’t think I can do it.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not sure that I can make it happen?”

“Why do you think that when you’ve [list accomplishments]?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t feel confident.”

“What steps do you need to take to get started?”

“I need to [steps].”

“On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being high, how willing are you to do each of these steps?”

“Well, I don’t mind [some steps], but I really don’t like [undesirable step.]”

“Then is it really a lack of confidence or is it that you don’t want to do what’s necessary to achieve this goal?”

At this point, the person typically admits that they don’t want the result badly enough to do things they don’t enjoy. They discover that it really isn’t a lack of confidence that’s holding them back, it’s a lack of desire.

This brings us to the real issue: the distinction between wish and desire.

Desire vs. wish

In essence, what they said they desired was really just a wish on their part. We’ve all “wished.” Who among us hasn’t said “I wish I had a million dollars.” Yet, we knew in our hearts that we didn’t want it enough to do the work required to build a million dollars of wealth.

When we confuse wishes with desire we set ourselves up not only for disappointment, but for future doubts about both our confidence and our ability to achieve what we truly desire.

In other words, we buy into the story we’re telling ourselves…a story that is built on a number of false premises. We can avoid this pitfall by becoming more consciously aware of the impact desire has on our success.

Confidence based on desire

Here’s the reality we all face: when desire is strong enough, confidence is never an issue. Our passion for what we’re pursuing provides the confidence we need to achieve what we desire.

When we are passionate about what we desire, we will not be denied. The obstacles we face are not disheartening, they are merely things to be dealt with…part of the learning curve that exists in every endeavor. 

Even when others question whether what we desire is attainable, our desire easily overwhelms the doubts and fears of the naysayers. We will not be deprived of what we desire by anyone or any circumstance.

How can these insights help you avoid confusing confidence and desire?

For you

When you find yourself hesitating to pursue what you desire, list the first three to fives steps yo need to take to pursue your dream. Then, using a scale of one to five, with five being high, rate your willingness to do each of the steps you’ve listed.

If the scores aren’t all fours and fives, don’t pursue this dream. It’s more of a wish than a desire. In other words, it isn’t important enough to you to do what’s necessary to make this dream a reality. Better to discover this upfront than to devote time, energy and money to an effort that has little likelihood of success.

There’s nothing wrong with admitting to ourselves, and others, that we don’t desire something enough to do what’s required. Life is a series of choices. Each choice has a tradeoff. Making choices that afford us the highest level of success and the greatest joy is smart.

Making these choices consciously, as you are with the rating scale, not only assures you more frequent and greater success, it enables you to avoid taking hits to your confidence. You’ll need that confidence as opportunities present themselves in the future. With each opportunity, the ability to measure your desire consciously, will add to the confidence you have in your decision to embrace or forgo that opportunity.

For our kids

As you see kids doubting their ability to achieve something they say they want, highlight:

  • What they’ve achieved previously…especially when they had no prior experience.
  • Ask them “Why do you think you’ll fail now, when your history shows that you’ve never failed before?”
  • Ask them what steps they’ll need to take to pursue their dream?
  • Ask them to rate their willingness to do each step using the five-point scale mentioned above.
  • Ask them “Is it really that you lack confidence? Or is it that your desire isn’t strong enough to do what’s required?’
  • Let them know that it’s smart to forgo something that doesn’t hold much interest for them.

Using this approach, you’ll help your kids see that it isn’t a lack of confidence, but a lack of desire that prevents them from pursuing their dream. Use the opportunity to delineate between wishes and desires. Remind them that the five-point scale can help them determine whether what they wish is really what they desire. Remind them that making the choice consciously using the five-point scale will assure them the confidence they’ll need for future choices.

It’s a gift that your kids will treasure throughout their lives…and very likely share with their kids as well.

Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link). 

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 (opens in a new link).

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4 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, Once again you do a great job of eliminating the confusion over different emotions. The topic reminds me of a discussion that I had with my sister in Pennsylvania about the success that she and her husband Raymond had in their business for 30 years. Donna had very little fomal education but she told me she had a PHD. I was curious. She said that she had (P)erseverance, (H)ard Work and (D)etermination. That lesson about desire has always stuck with me 🙂

    • dfurtwengler

      Wow, Bill, I love that story. Do you think that your sister and her husband would allow me to use their PhD mindset in a blog post…with appropriate credit to them of course? Or not, if they prefer. Thanks for sharing, Bill. Our readers will gain a lot from this insight.

  2. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, Feel free to use the PhD mindset. Use your own judgment about the best way to present it.

    I’m sure my sister will be honored to know that you think that highly of the idea!

    • dfurtwengler

      Thanks Bill. It’s a message from which our readers will greatly benefit. My thanks to your sister as well.

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