Confidence Games

I was speaking with a colleague last week about what typically goes through the mindset of a founder and about the crazy journey that is entrepreneurship. He brought up a saying he had heard from a founder a while back that stuck with him. This founder summed up the process of building something from scratch very simply as: “This is all a confidence game.”

I had heard of this term before in various contexts during my career. Essentially it means that anyone with enough confidence can influence outcomes in their favor, even if they have no business achieving a certain goal (at least from an outsider’s perspective). This comes up in so many aspects of life, whether it be jumping off the high diving board for the first time, asking out your crush in high school, running for student body president, running the marathon, etc.

I believe one of the strongest applications of this concept is entrepreneurship. Founders take on extraordinary amounts of risk and face challenge after challenge, all in pursuit of bringing an idea to life. Throughout this journey, the average founder will constantly be faced with tons of reasons to quit, but will have to stay steadfast in their conviction and make sure that their team maintains belief. Confidence also plays a major factor in fundraising – those who project confidence that they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals will generally be more convincing at getting a VC to take a chance on them. I certainly don’t want to diminish the other founder qualities necessary for success, but confidence certainly play a very important role.

However, having high confidence should never be mixed up with hubris. The most effective leaders I’ve seen have the confidence to rally their team behind a unified cause, but are also humble enough to be vulnerable, admit she/he doesn’t know everything, and foresee upcoming challenges around the corner. There is a fine line between these two, and it’s important to stay grounded and stay sharp in one’s decision-making.

For all the founders out there – keep believing, keep pushing, and don’t be afraid of failure. With enough confidence, you may be able to bend reality to your will.

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