Perseverance and Confidence: A Virtuous Cycle

Note to my future self..

In this post I want to explore a very simple idea:

Perseverance and Confidence are self-reinforcing attributes.

The basic premise of this sentence is simple. Those who persevere are more likely to succeed, which reinforces their confidence in what they set out to do. The more confident they are the more likely they are to persevere in the face of adversity, which increases their chances of success, which subsequently increases their confidence and cycle repeats itself.

Think about it. If you study hard for a calculus test you will probably get a good score, which will increase your confidence in yourself and your math skills. This will, in theory, make it more likely that you will study hard the next time that you face a tough exam (even if you don’t get it initially). This will allow you to move forward in your “math” journey while building your confidence at the same time. This might not be a perfect analogy but I think that it works for this purpose.

There are a couple of interesting ideas about this idea that perseverance and confidence are self-reinforcing attributes. For one it suggests that perseverance is what jumpstarts the cycle. In theory you could just start with a purse dose of confidence but as soon as you hit a roadblock (which you will inevitably do if you do anything new) you will need perseverance to get you unstuck.

It’s also interesting to note how this cycle could be destructive in reverse. For example, low levels of confidence will eventually lead to learned helplessness, which means that the individual will eventual stop trying (lack of perseverance) and the cycle get perpetuated.

In any case, I think that the key takeaway here is to remind myself that perseverance is a quality that I should actively try to develop because of the added benefits that it provides beyond helping me do whatever it’s that I am trying to get done.

Now back to work..