[Barney:] Uh, not much. My entire sexual history was built on a rotting foundation of lies. My whole identity is lost in a pit of menthol ashes. Work is good.
—How I Met Your Mother, Season 3, Episode 10: “The Yips” (2007)
There is debt in the world of self-confidence (let’s call it, “ConfiDebt,” for short). This debt occurs when we make a promise, either to ourselves or to others, and then never deliver. There’s an initial feel-good aspect at the time of any promise—attending a friend’s stand up comedy performance or a child’s ballet recital, we may say “I’m such a good friend/parent/sibling/etc. I’m going to do X, because I promised.” But these initial positive feelings (confidence deposits) come at a cost: We must actually do what we promise to do. And just like a credit card, if we do not pay off our debt in a timely manner (ex. at the time of the comedy show), the cost of those seemingly little promises add up at insanely high interest rates.
This idea of purchasing confidence on credit goes beyond friendships. Swindling, fabricating data, general dishonesty—people use these techniques to gain prestige, material wealth, and positive feedback all the time. There are repercussions to our actions, however. Hindus may call it “Karma,” Wall Street may call it a “correction,” emotionally it’s often felt as guilt, but whatever the manifestation, buying confidence with dishonesty is like racking up huge amounts of debt and not having the means to pay it back. When lenders come to collect, it leads to personal ruin—both in actual money and in confidence. We cannot prop ourselves up on a foundation of lies forever. So while overall confidence is an important KPI of a person’s life, it is a person’s integrity that is a more accurate indicator.
In the Confidence Bank Account, Confidence is the gross total of our account, but Integrity is the net. In business-speak, Confidence lest ConfiDebt is Integrity. Or, to put it another way, integrity is our confidence earned through honest, healthy principles—well-deserved and well-earned confidence—the opposite of the prototypical 1980s investment banker without moral compass.
To have integrity—to have a net positive in our Confidence Bank Account—requires a balanced approach to life. High integrity indicates honesty, positive self-esteem, self-assurance, being well-grounded, and often a diversified portfolio of confidence assets (including positive personal relationships). Finding the right personal investment strategy and optimizing our current portfolio in the confidence economy is an ongoing process. But more on that next week…
- C = pF – nF , Confidence = Positive Feedback – Negative Feedback
- I = C – D, Integrity = Confidence – ConfiDebt
*Disclaimer: The Confidence Bank Account is in no way scientific, mathematically sound, nor inclusive of quantitative data, so please sit back, relax, and enjoy the thought experiment.