Do You Have What It Takes? Take The Confidence Test!

By David

October 21, 2013   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

What if I told you that if you haven’t succeeded yet, you won’t?

What if I said that your potential is lower than you think?

What if I told you that you don’t have what it takes?

It wouldn’t matter.

And if I told you that you could surpass your greatest dreams? That wouldn’t matter either. But by telling you that you don’t have what it takes, that your potential is low, and that you can’t do it, I would discover something important: if what I just said is true.

Your reaction to a provocative statement like “you don’t have what it takes” will be instinctive, and revealing. It will unveil the beliefs inside you that you don’t know as well as you might think.

This digs your core beliefs right out.

The Confidence Test

I’m telling you right now, you don’t have what it takes (to do whatever is most important to you). What is your instinctive response?

1. A John Locke, angry tirade of “don’t tell me what I can’t do!”
2. A matter-of-fact disagreement
3. Running away in tears
4. Indifference
5. A passive-aggressive silent treatment
6. “Me? Look at you!”

Ok, pick the answer(s) that seem most likely for you. Choose before reading further!

I Hope You Didn’t Choose These Answers

1, 3, 5, or 6.

The above answers have one thing in common – they’re defensive (#6 is defense via offense). This shows a lack of confidence, and here’s why.

What would you do if a butterfly attacked your foot? Would you curl up in a ball and scream? I would laugh for a long time if I thought a butterfly wanted to harm me.

Ok, now how about if a bear attacked your foot? Would you pet him on the head? If a bear attacked my foot, I would gladly give him both of my shoes and a plastic honey bear, and while he’s distracted, run faster than ever before to protect my life from a genuine threat. The reaction in each case matches the level of threat, and that is the lesson.

People only defend themselves when they believe an attack is a genuine threat.

What would happen if I told Donald Trump he was a poor business man? What would happen if I told Kobe Bryant he sucks at basketball? What would happen if I told Oprah her opinion didn’t matter?

They would laugh. My words would be like a butterfly on their expensive shoes. They’ve already accomplished those things, which makes it easier for them to be confident, but you don’t need to be famous to have confidence. For example, if you told me I wasn’t good at basketball, I would respond like Kobe because I’m a confident basketball player.

Anyone who is actively progressing on a plan to succeed (in however they define success) can brush off a comment of doubt related to it. It is the unconfident people who explode when challenged, because they hear the words as confirmation of their fears of failing.

The Best Answer Is #4 – Indifference

Indifference reveals if you’re unshakably confident in yourself or not. If I told you that the moon was going to eat you, you’d scoff at me and laugh. You’d be fully confident in the falsehood of that statement. Why?

The more confident you are about something, the less vulnerable you are to outside influence and opinion.

In the beginning of the article, I mentioned that I’d find out if “it was true” that you wouldn’t make it very far. If your response was indifference, I’d know that you have a plan and you’re confident that you can execute it. Think of James Bond’s cool and calm demeanor. He’s about the most confident and capable persona in modern film. How would he react to the comment? Nonchalantly, with a witty remark.

If you want to gauge your confidence in any area of life, just imagine what your response would be when confronted in this way, and you’ll have your answer in seconds.

You don’t have what it takes to get in shape.
You don’t have what it takes to travel to Fiji sometime in your lifetime.
You don’t have what it takes to be a successful writer.

The Best Wrong Answer Is #1 – Passionate Disagreement

The upside to responding with passionate emotion is the chip-on-the-shoulder effect. If you don’t have confidence, a strong challenge can sometimes uproot another highly useful mindset – determination to prove someone wrong. People LOVE to prove other people wrong just for the sake of doing it.

Famous sports players interviewed about their path to stardom, often say something like this:

“They said I couldn’t do it. I had to prove them wrong.”

Gee, it wasn’t the paycheck or the women, but the chip on your shoulder?

A Weird Technique I Learned From My First Piece Of Hatemail

Life is about getting yourself to try your best in any way you can. An odd technique I’ve found useful is to be determined to prove my lack of confidence wrong, or at least “test it.” If you have low confidence in your ability to achieve a goal, think of your doubts as just one more naysayer in the crowd and conjure up the determination to prove everyone wrong (including yourself).

The biggest leap in the growth of my blog and writing career occurred shortly after I almost gave it up. I received my first piece of hate mail because of my views on the Law Of Attraction, and it caught me off guard. The guy said that I was complete bologna (in non-lunchmeat terms). Not my article, mind you, but me.

The insult latched on to all of my doubts, magnifying them in my mind. Was he right? After some internal struggle, and considering giving up my dream, I decided I would try harder first. I placed my doubts next to the naysayer and said, “you two watch this and we’ll see about your theory.” And then I worked much harder than I had been working and saw much more success from my efforts.

Shortly after that, I wrote 6 Unconventional But Scientific Ways To Be The Happiest Person On Earth. The article went viral on Dumb Little Man and Lifehacker, and was a big boost in confidence for me.

Just today, I came across a stranger on Reddit who said my blog is the best he’s ever read, which gave me the opposite feeling of the bologna guy. I am also honored to be a featured writer here at Dumb Little Man. And the community at Deep Existence is growing rapidly. I wonder if I should reply to the hate email and say, “thanks for the free motivation.”

If you have low confidence for doing what you want to do, set out to prove yourself wrong. Test the theory that you’ll fail and be aggressive about it. Dare yourself to fail. Everyone knows an animal is most dangerous when cornered. Well, so are human beings. When you’re cornered, you have no option left but to fight your way forward, and then you’ll find out what you can really do.

I recommend every so often telling yourself (or imagining someone else telling you) that you can’t do it. I bet you’ll find it much more motivating than a pat on the back. And if you’re confident in your abilities already, you’ll get a good laugh out of it. You win either way!

If you want to see for yourself if my blog is complete bologna or the best you’ve ever read, come visit Deep Existence. If you subscribe, I’ll send you two gifts – my eBook about removing Stress and a pack of 40 awesome focus wallpapers. I write a Tuesday newsletter mostly about focusing, habits, minimalism, and taking small steps. If you’re interested or want to learn more, you can sign up here.


Written on 10/21/2013 by Stephen Guise. Besides writing for his own blogs Stephen is a featured writer here at Dumb Little Man. Be sure to stop by Stephen’s ‘featured writer page‘ right here on Dumb Little Man to find links to more of his articles.

Photo Credit: Sweet Dreamz Design


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