The very term confidence—implying behavior that goes beyond a rational approach to decision making—indicates why it plays a major role in macroeconomics. When people are confident they go out and buy; when they are unconfident they withdraw, and they sell. Economic history is full of such cycles of confidence followed by withdrawal. Who has not taken a hike and come across a long-abandoned railway line— someone’s past dream of a path to riches and wealth? Who has not heard of the Great Tulip Bubble of the seventeenth-century Netherlands— a country famous, we might add, for its stalwart Rembrandt burghers and often caricatured as the home of the world’s most cautious people. Who does not know that even Isaac Newton—the father of modern physics and of the calculus—lost a fortune in the South Sea bubble of the eighteenth century?
It's fine to criticize government and all the other centers of power, probing for their inevitable, arrogant error-modes. But we won't blanket-betray the nation that protected us, or the city whose cops we'd call, if we ever got into real trouble. We won't undermine the confidence of our fellow citizens by hammering away at their belief in themselves, or their democratic institutions.
Confidence is a good name for what is intended by the term directness. It should not be confused, however, with self-confidence which may be a form of self-consciousness — or of "cheek." Confidence is not a name for what one thinks or feels about his attitude it is not reflex. It denotes the straightforwardness with which one goes at what he has to do. It denotes not conscious trust in the efficacy of one's powers but unconscious faith in the possibilities of the situation. It signifies rising to the needs of the situation.
you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Steve Jobs, Address at Stanford University (12 June, 2005).
Arrogance is a killer, and wearing ambition on one's sleeve can have the same effect. There is a fine line between arrogance and self-confidence. Legitimate self-confidence is a winner. The true test of self-confidence is the courage to be open—to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source. Self-confident people aren't afraid to have their views challenged. They relish the intellectual combat that enriches ideas.
Jack Welch, Jack: Straight from the Gut, Chapter 24 (2001).
Life for both sexes — and I looked at them, shouldering their way along the pavement — is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle.
I see before me the statue of a celebrated minister, who said that confidence was a plant of slow growth. But I believe, however gradual may be the growth of confidence, that of credit requires still more time to arrive at maturity.
Confidence is conqueror of men; victorious both over them and in them; The iron will of one stout heart shall make a thousand quail: A feeble dwarf, dauntlessly resolved, will turn the tide of battle, And rally to a nobler strife the giants that had fled.