Reading The Times this week, Ben Mcintyre reminded me of something that Miss McIntosh taught me in 1971. 2+2 = 4. The maths is true and is the same this year as it was last, but something has changed – what we have lost is not the ability to add up but something much more precious; confidence. Apparently it can’t be bought, even for $700bn, £500bn or any other made up numbers flying around at the moment. Despite enormous sums being thrown at it, confidence is not (yet) responding.
The impact of this quality going AWOL? JK Galbraith said that “when people are cautious, questioning, misanthropic, suspicious or mean, they are immune to speculative enthusiasms.” Put another way, when there’s no confidence, the ability to have a mindset focused on positive performance disappears. I’m not saying we should ignore reality – far from it. I am saying that in the face of reality, the only high performance response is to choose to focus on the confidence qualities that sit inside every individual and team we work with and are not dependent on changing conditions. For them 2+2 still equals 4. Miss McIntosh will be much relieved.