I say "lost", but really it was ripped from my wrist when, purely on impulse, me and a friend decided to launch ourselves off the top of a hill and tumble all the way down to the bottom.
It required no thought; we just took a breath and literally launched ourselves into the air, rolling head over tail until we landed in a heap at the foot of the hill.
We got up, laughed ourselves silly and went on our way.
These days, it would be a miracle if I made it down that same hill without turning myself into a sack full of broken bones, so while I wouldn't be keen to make that same leap today, this experience reminds me of a truth I've come to embrace fully in my work as a confidence coach.
Natural Confidence is always there
It’s easy to be confident when you’re feeling confident, and I've lost track of the times I've heard people tell me how they once did something with absolute confidence, but they've since bottled it and can't seem to get that same sense of feeling confident back again.
Tina told me about how she once gave a great presentation, but has got nervous, clammy and dodged the opportunity to present since then. Rob mentioned to me that he'd bungee-jumped once when he was traveling around Australia, and how the man who did that feels like a different and distant person. Ella explained to me how she used to open up to her partner and talk really frankly about what was going on for her, but how she's since put up walls and doesn't know how she was ever so open and vulnerable.
But rather than thinking that you once had something you've now lost, I've seen that the opposite is true.
You haven't lost your confidence; you've just added thoughts about not being confident.
Natural confidence might shrink or even atrophy through negligence or forgetfulness, but it's always there, waiting for you to use it. It doesn't go anywhere.
What stops you from using it are new patterns of thinking built in your brain over time that tell you that you're not confident in specific situations, just like Tina, Rob and Ella experienced. The motivation for forming this new thinking is simple - to divert you away from behaviour that includes risk, change and uncertainty; the stuff that your brain fears more than anything.
We’re all born with natural confidence (just watch kids playing or a young adult get involved in what matters to them and you'll see it), and even though through adulthood you can bad-mouth it, disparage it, ignore it and even punch it square in the jaw, it's always there, underneath the patterns of un-confidence, waiting for you.
And this leads me to the second truth I've discovered.
Natural confidence is applied at the point of change
There's always a point that determines which way you go; a tipping point where you choose between fear or faith, doubt or belief, function or dysfunction, ability or disability, strength or weakness, assumption or insight.
It's right at the point of change where you can apply natural confidence, that ability to choose your behaviour with implicit trust in that behaviour.
If you're out of practice (like Tina, Rob or Ella), the only way - the only way - to apply natural confidence is through practice.
Developing any skill or building any muscle requires consistency of practice, and the same applies here.
Being mindful of the point of change and then mindfully and non-judgementally applying natural confidence.
It might not be glamorous or comfortable, but it's necessary.
It's the only way you get to reinforce the patterns of thinking that leverage and grow natural confidence, and it's the only way that those patterns of thinking become your brains' go-to resource instead of the patterns of un-confidence.
And when that happens you won’t have any need to wrap yourself up in doubt and second-guessing; choices become simple.
And this leads us to the third truth.
Natural confidence is outcome agnostic
Jumping off that hill lost me an expensive watch and a meaningful gift. That was the outcome of my decision to jump, and I felt pretty bad about it.
But if I went back in time, I'd make that same leap again, no matter the outcome.
Earlier I mentioned that natural confidence is being able to choose your behaviour with implicit trust in that behaviour, and there's a world of difference between trusting your behaviour and trusting an outcome.
When Tina gave that first presentation, she didn't think about a specific outcome, she simply trusted herself to talk about her topic, something she knew back to front.
When Rob jumped off that bridge, he didn't think about how high up he was or how secure the bungee cord was, he simply trusted the process and trusted himself to jump.
When Ella used to open up and make herself vulnerable, she didn't think about how she might get hurt, she simply trusted herself to be herself and say what mattered.
It's the thinking you have about the risks, change or uncertainty in a course of action that smother your natural confidence, and all it needs is for you see that these thoughts don't need to determine what happens and don't reflect who you truly are.
It's your best kept secret, and it's right under your nose.