In the week before selecting the final All Black Rugby World Cup 2011 squad, some alarm bells went off in my head, yes not uncommon, as I was concerned about the attitude the selectors took. It was the week before the second to last Tri Nations match, which was being played in South Africa on August 21. The selectors stated that they wished to give some of the fringe players a chance to prove if they are up to the standard to be selected for the world cup squad that would be announced a few days later.

The danger with such a public selection statement is this can put doubt into a players head, rather than have coaching staff that believe in them. You could argue players need to perform under pressure, which they do, yet self belief is created by the inner and outer belief of both the individual and also the key people around that player. Hence this is very different to a coach stating we selected you because we know you are the best, then putting them into playing in a pressure situation, which is more typical of All Black matches.

Every individual has different levels of belief. Let’s use 2 examples. The core example is Colin Slade, after limited play due to 2 broken check bones in the same season, he was told to play for his place in the August 21 South African test match. Having shown supreme quality touches in his previous All Black play, on that day he floundered, he lacked the self belief it seemed to have his full confidence. If he had been told that the selectors believe in him and that is why they selected him in the current squad, would he have played better? Would he have maintained the form of a world class five eights shown previously?

The other example is Israel Dagg who performed like a man who knew with unerring certainty he was a potential All Black great in the making. He proved he has the deep seated self belief to handle any challenge.

The core point is that expectations help create performance. Hence we often will not be able to perform better then our expectations, which are a collection of our own unconscious conditioning, which is influenced by those around us. For example our parents, partner, brother, work mates or associates have expectations of our possible performance levels, hence ability, which help to influence our self belief and set our performance limits. This is an example of the importance of associating with people who are positive and motivate you, rather then drag you down.
What can you do today to improve your collective expectations hence self belief?