Two Steps to Refine Your “Kernels of Confidence”

By clearly refining the image that feeds your confidence you can your goals and out run fear or worse

Did you see the story about the amputee runner who was training for the 100 mile ultra marathon? When I heard her speak, she mentioned that when she runs she “always is thinking about her children.”

Of course, you’ve read the story about Ariana Huffington and how her mother encouraged everything with “a combination of making me believe I could do anything and that if I failed she wouldn’t love me any less.”

While there are definitely many people behind the efforts of those who strive physically or in business but there is something else going on that each of us can tap into. I bet that if we were to interview them, they would tell us about images of themselves that are the foundations of their confidence.

”Kernals of Confidence”: The DNA of success

When you think about the a version of yourself or that time when you “nailed” it? Can you conjure up a crystal clear picture of that moment or situation?

Is there an early win you remember on the field, mat, pool, at school or work?

Can you picture yourself then? Like really clearly?

For example, someone I coached recently described him moment as “the tall, lean pitcher” version of himself from college. “No one could hit his stuff. I owned that mound and was top of my game,” he described.

Science and experience teach us that one win helps us to try other things and whether we succeed or not, gives us the confidence to keep trying. These “wins”, no matter how small, are “kernels of confidence.”

The more times you’re “at bat”, the more likely you are to hit the ball. And if we can simply get ourselves into the proverbial batters box by drawing on our own kernels of confidence — or using this method to help others in our lives — the more likely we can ski over the ice and weather any storm.

Step One: Clarify Your Internal Image of Your Best Self

With your eyes open or closed, see if you can define a clear, visual picture of yourself. If you are looking from a bit of distance, can you see that confident, standing up straight, or poised, version of yourself?

Look inside yourself for an image you hold deep. Does that image immediately makes your mind and body say to yourself and feel “yes, I am on top of the world?”

Find an image that has an immediate, calming and inner strengthening effect. In essence, I am asking you to look for the image of an early “kernal of confidence.” Maybe it was when you got that A on a test, wrote a poem, coded a website for yourself, or even turned down a job or new relationship, because you knew it was not a fit. For golfers, it was the moment the ball went into the hole — at any distance. For someone else, it might be the time you helped an older person or injured person cross the street or pick something up.

It is an image of a moment in time — a moment that exemplifies a kernel of your own confidence.

Like a snap shot. Can you see how you stand? Your face? How you hold yourself?

Can you internalize how you feel seeing that image now? Doesn’t it make you feel strong? calm? confident? capable? I sure hope it does.

A kernel of confidence is a simple win that you had in life. The earliest kernel of course was when you learned to walk. That moment when you went from holding on to a chair or waste basket — as did my nephew — to walking a few steps to his dad, was his earliest kernel of confidence. And then he fell of course but he quickly got up and tried again.

It is the minds’ ability to remember that he stood, despite the falls, that got him — and helped each of us when it was our turn — to learn to walk. And, as easy as it comes to us now, walking is really no simple feat. (If you’ve ever injured your foot, ankle, knee or hip you know how quickly walking becomes tough again).

If you’ve read my other writing before, you may remember that one of the first images I found for myself was me dressed in a turtle neck, khakhi’s and sneakers, with horn rimmed glasses (before contact lenses came to be my de rigeur). My image of my kernal of confidence, build into more confidence which then helped me nail law school and bar exams, over and over again as I moved to California.

The key here is that your image is a building block of your self-belief (i., confidence). This is work for you by you, and does not — can not come from anyone else’s life experience.

So, keep it simple — and get the image clear.

You do not need to share this image with anyone or even tell anyone you are doing this work.

Step two: Practice Pulling Up Your Image

When I speak to high performers who sink puts for a living or win martial arts competitions or try cases before juries, I often ask them what helps them when things get tough.

Often, they use words like “my experience” , “having gone thru it before” and words that on the surface, reflect their confidence. But what I did not hear was how they built and preserved their confidence.

By clarifying small wins as images in your mind and body and learning to bring them up during tough times, you will develop an almost unbreakable ability to keep a central part of you strong, no matter the adversity.

And you can do this if you have a clear image of a kernel of confidence. And it should not be surprise. When we look at the 100 mile ultra marathoner — whether an amputee or not — she must draw on inner faith to continue and to finish. It is never just physical strength that permits her to finish. It is an image of her self based in positive, self-belief. Our example above, spoke of an image of her children — but I bet if we spoke to her — she would describe for us her image of herself as a mom. And, I bet that that image would be of a confident mom, an image that helps her through just about every adversity that comes at her — whether the 100 miler or her physical limitations.

And if she can show us how to do it, then we can do it too. Even on our shorter races in life. Don’t you agree?

I speak to a lot of kids and young adults about what helps them get thru awkward, tough moments. While we must be careful about how we talk to them, we must continue to figure out ways to help them to have kernels of confidence and to hold on to these images that they already have in their lives. One begets two and two begets more.

As we, as adults, get good at clarifying our image — our inner kernel of confidence — we will become better at helping others that we see have yet to define their image. I believe while we cannot “give” someone else confidence, we can help each other find our inner images. And once we do, the world for each of us, even when it rains hard, becomes an incredibly different place.

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Thank you, Gregory.

Gregory Rutchik is a lawyer, author and Certified Trauma Professional who lives in West Hollywood with his wife. His latest book “Stella Do It” is available on — a young adult story about independence.