The Chicken or The Egg: Competence, Confidence Loop

By Prosperous Coach Ginou

The Chicken or The Egg: Competence, Confidence Loop

There’s a lot more nuance to explore in this dance between confidence and competence. Let’s dig a little deeper into how they influence each other and why it’s not as straightforward as one coming before the other.

The Psychological Underpinnings

The loop itself operates on a psychological level. When you gain competence in a specific skill, say learning to code or public speaking, your brain registers this success. 

This isn’t merely a tick on a checklist; it becomes a part of your self-perception. Feeling competent can change the way you walk, talk, and engage with others—it makes you feel more confident in your abilities.

How Confidence Fuels Learning

On the flip side, confidence isn’t just a result; it’s also a catalyst for future competence. Think about it: When you’re confident, you’re more likely to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. 

You’ll pick up that guitar and join a band, or stand up and give a presentation at work. 

In each case, the confidence you feel emboldens you to practice more, delve into deeper nuances of your skill, and ultimately become more competent.

The Importance of Milestones and Feedback Loops

The loop also thrives on milestones and feedback. Research calls this form of self-evaluation crucial for growth. 

When you accomplish something meaningful and recognize it, that creates a feedback loop that boosts your confidence, inspiring you to tackle the next challenge. 

The more accomplishments you rack up, the more reliable your loop of competence and confidence becomes.

Caution: The Risk of False Positives, Overconfidence

Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten about the pitfalls. The danger zone lies in mistaking the feeling of confidence for actual competence, especially when you’re just starting. 

Confidence can be inflated by external factors like praise, social validation, or even your own internal dialogue. 

If that confidence isn’t rooted in real skill, you risk setting yourself up for disappointment or failure, which can, in turn, damage the confidence you had to start with.

The Influence of External Factors

Another layer to consider is how external factors can intervene in this loop. For instance, an overly critical environment can undermine confidence, even if competence is growing. 

Conversely, a supportive environment can boost confidence, accelerating the loop and encouraging you to gain further competence.

Play The Long Game Of Continuous Adaptation and Learning

The confidence-competence loop is not a one-time event but a continuous cycle. As you evolve, so do your skills and self-assurance. 

You’ll reach new plateaus where you’ll need to adapt, reassess, and aim for new goals. This continuous adaptation keeps the loop going, and it’s what makes the relationship between confidence and competence so intricate yet so incredibly enriching.

So, in essence, the confidence-competence loop is a complex interplay that drives personal growth, shaped by psychological cues, external feedback, and the continuous need for adaptation.

When you understand and respect this loop, you can harness it to accelerate your personal development effectively.


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