Thursday Thoughts #28: Confidence

How can you get confidence when you really need it?

Elizabeth Moss Kanter from Harvard Business School wrote a whole book about what makes winning streaks and losing streaks of teams and how the behavior at the top and the bottom of achievement shapes your odds of doing well [1]. The key ingredient for success is confidence. A lot of what applies to the football field also applies to medicine.

Moss Kanter lists three key ingredients of confidence:

  • You have to know what you are doing and have practiced your skills. All the confidence in the world doesn’t help if you can’t play ball. It is not about being rash, pumping one’s chest or being a cowboy. Similarly, there are things I am good at but I have never taken someone’s appendix out. Doing so would not be a sign of confidence but of malpractice.
  • Collaboration is another element. You are not alone in the world. In teams it is critical to work with each other, know each other’s needs, quirks, and preferences and accommodate in ways that work for all. That takes some mutual exploration, respect, and acceptance. Even when it is only you and a new patient you haven’t met before, you are a team for creating well-being. Success cannot come from a top-down relationship.
  • You still have to go and do it!

But what if you just can’t give yourself the push to get going right away? For that we created our free myComfort Talk app. It contains a confidence segment with the following strategy:

  • Imagine yourself in a moment in which everything works out perfectly; one of these magic moments where everything just clicks, whether you worked hard on it or it just happens like a gift from heaven. Just immerse yourself fully in this experience – and if you can’t remember a moment like that, just imagine how it would be.
  • Look around in this moment. What do you see? If there is a special color surrounding you, associate this color with the great feeling of achievement. If there is a sound or song that goes along with it, use that to bring you back to this moment of achievement. Or you can associate the experience of delight with a subtle movement, such as touching thumb and forefinger, or curling your toes, or blinking three times with your eyes. This is called anchoring the experience– making a connection between the color, sound, or motion to the feeling you experience at that moment and use the same color, sound, or movement later to bring you back into the feeling.
  • Then anytime when you need confidence NOW you can get yourself into that state by just thinking of the color or the song, or by doing your secret movement (or do all of these if you prefer). It works like magic!



  1. Moss Kanter R. How winning streaks & losing streaks begin and end. New York: Crown Business; 2004.
  2. Lang EV, Laser E. Confidence. In “Patient sedation without medication. Rapid rapport and quick hypnotic techniques. A resource guide for doctors, nurses, and technologists.” Raleigh, NC: Lulu; 2009. p 7-15.



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