“Confidence is the memory of past success” – Chris Judd
Picture this scenario: Its one game short of the championship. The scores are tied. Two minutes remaining on the clock. One hundred thousand people are glued to their seats in nervous anticipation. One player grabs the ball and, despite the odds, makes a play to put his team into a winning position. Your heart is racing. The clock runs down. Your team wins! They qualify for the championship game. A hero is born.
Chris Judd is one of my sporting idols. It seems that he was born to play sport at the highest level. But was he born with confidence? Or did he build it over time.
In a 2012 interview, Judd was asked about confidence. In that interview he said confidence is built from what you know in your past. But, he then went on to say that your past doesn’t have to be real or true.
Judd continued on, elite athletes use techniques to form a ‘past’ in their mind where they win over and over. Then on the sporting field they can pull the confidence they need from that ‘past’ to win the game.
The secret is the mind doesn’t know the difference between a real past and an imagined one.
How Is This Story Relevant To Spanish Students?
What if in the past you had a perfect conversation in Spanish? What if you communicated clearly with perfect pronunciation and understood exactly what was being said?
Would you feel a level of confidence from that experience? Could you take that feeling of confidence into the next conversation?
What if that conversation never happened?
It may be that you had never considered that success in language involves a level of confidence. Confidence can do amazing things. It can give you strength when you feel weak, energy when you feel tired and clarity when you feel dazed. Best of all, confidence can be used to build a level of skill quickly.
Creating An Imagined Past
Maybe you have had an experience where you told a friend a story about something that had happened to you. Maybe that story wasn’t entirely interesting so you decided to embellish just a little bit to make the story more intriguing / entertaining.
Then you told that story more than once because it was good. Before long, you have told the story many many times. The embellished story now becomes ingrained in your mind and what actually happened in exact truthful detail is a faded distant blur.
Hopefully this example of story telling resonates with you. But even if it doesn’t the point is that you can alter the way you remember things through repetition.
You can train yourself to have successful memories.
Can you picture yourself executing something successfully?
As this applies to spanish speaking, go through the exercise right now:
Visualise yourself having a conversation with something in Spanish. Can you visualise yourself communicating with great pronunciation, with proper grammar with excellent listening skills? Can you visualise yourself understanding them perfectly. Taking up exactly what they say and responding quickly with confidence.
If you do this exercise often enough it will become real in your mind. And you will be able to draw on that successful memory for confidence in the future.
Visualisation is an incredible powerful strategy. There are countless examples of athletes at the top level using it. Successful businessman visualise a close before a big deal, politicians visualise a perfect speech before they step up to the podium and actors visualise a perfect performance before the curtain is drawn. There is no reason why you can’t use visualisation to build confidence before an approaching interaction in another language.
Now there are two points that have to be made on this topic:
Firstly the technique it is going to work best for the student who has done the hours in practice yet maybe nervous to perform on game day.
Take the student who has countless hours of practice. They knows thousands of words. Their grammar is tight. Practice with their teacher is exceptional yet when they speak to an actual Spanish local they freeze up. They get nervous. Their confidence is shot.
If they implement a visualisation strategy they can build confidence prior to real interactions. Then once they have a few wins they can build on actual real success and it grow from there.
The second point is that if you have done zero practice, then visualisation is going to be less helpful for you. But it is not going to hurt and could help you get to your goals faster.
How are you addressing confidence in your learning routine?
When learning a language there is more learn than just vocabulary and grammar, it takes courage and confidence to build on what you have practiced in a textbook or a classroom.
So consider practicing visualisation in your next study session an a alternative to learning just a few more words.