Shining confidence

From time to time, you stumble upon a foreign language word that describes a concept or an idea you had noticed but had no words for it.  When I read the following: 

If you see any of the great Tibetan teachers, they appear radiant even in very simple robes. This radiance that shines forth is known as ziji in the Tibetan tradition. Ziji can be translated as “brilliant confidence” The uplifted and dignified appearance of these teachers comes from confidence in their own basic goodness.

Lodro Rinzler, ‘The Buddha walks into a bar’.

This instantly made sense. Mingyur Rinponche is the prime example:

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. Image: Tergar

He is incredibly charismatic, funny, a great public speaker. Many other teachers like him exhibit the came confidence. All of a sudden it made sense it made sense to me that there is a word for it – ziji. 

Now you will ask what is ‘basic goodness’. With skillful agility i will avoid the question for the time being and focus on how you can yourself develop and use this confidence. 


“It is always in my mind still that I can crush anybody.  […] If you don’t believe you can win tournaments anymore, then you can’t do it.”

Roger Federer

Confidence is one of the “4C” in the model of mental toughness, together with control, Commitment, Challenge. Confidence is a description and an assessment of self-belief. In the 4C model, confidence has two components: confidence in abilities and interpersonal confidence. The confidence in abilities is straightforward to understand – Do I have the knowledge and skill to take on a challenge – say playing a better player, knowing full well there is the possibility of failure. Interpersonal confidence is different: it is the confidence to hold your views in front of others when challenged. Say you are analysing a game with several higher-rated players. If you see an interesting line that they dismiss, do you stand your ground and insist they have a close look at it? 

Self-efficacy enters the room

Albert Bandura’s work on self-efficacy is central to performance psychology. While confidence is rather non-descript, self-efficacy clearly refers to the belief that one has in their ability to succeed in a particular situation. I could be ‘confident’ that I will lose or not perform. I could be confident but not have the skills to back it up. Self-efficacy may be built through vicarious experiences, but the main building of self -efficacy is thouhg repeated mastery. Through training and study, the acquired skills are the foundation of the ability and belief for the player to apply this in-game.

Putting things together: your shining confidence

There is no need to manufacture aggressive confidence artificially. You come to the competition armed with many hours of hard work. You can analyse any position and you have practised your defensive and offensive skills, all at the ready if you need it. You can use this quiet self-efficacy as your ziji: your own brilliant confidence. 


Mingyur has a fantastic youtube channel, and I will use my closing words to leave you with him.  For example in his London talk of 2018 you will see a great example of his charisma and confidence:

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