Confidence — Ellen F. McCormick Martens

Truth perceived gives assurance.
Skill yields self-reliance.
With courage, we can defy danger.
To increase power, increase humility.

Though constant contemplation, we can arrive at the truth. The more experienced we are, the more thorough our understanding, and thus the more we can come to rely on our knowledge. When we exercise what we know, it not only extends our understanding of the truth but helps us take action in meaningful ways. The more we do, the more self-reliant we are.

Every achievement brings a wonderful dividend of confidence. We try greater and greater ventures, until we are brave enough to accomplish undertakings far beyond what the average person imagines. When we reach that level of consummate skill, it is a time of both celebration and extreme caution. We are justified to rejoice, for this is the level of ability that we have been striving so long and hard to attain. It is also the time for caution because the foolish will eventually try something too great for them to handle. Pride and passion will lead to their downfall.

Therefore, the more accomplished one becomes, the more circumspect one should be. The higher one’s skills, the more precarious one’s road. The most powerful followers of Tao are also among the most humble. By veiling their light until the proper moments, they escape the greatest danger of all: hubris.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

Yes, I think hubris is probably the greatest danger America faces as a nation today. The current administration thinks nobody can bring it down, and so they will continue their plans until they make their final error.

Individual hubris can be just as costly. My own has cost me three wonderful friendships. Granted, I was ill at the time and didn’t realize it, but there it is, all the same. I’ll always regret those losses, but they did teach me to be humble. But I have lots to be humble about. I’m not rich or famous, or a supermodel, or much of anything else. I’m just me, and have to be happy with that, as we all do.

But I do have confidence in myself these days. I know my own limits pretty well, and I know where I need to improve things and work on doing so. I don’t really care about defying danger. I have great respect for danger. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone anymore, even myself. And perhaps that is the greatest confidence of all.