Sometimes people tell me things like, “If you just believe in yourself enough, you can accomplish anything!”

While I strongly believe in the importance of positive thinking, that’s really only half of the story.

Confidence isn’t enough.

Turns out, that despite the shortcuts we think social media and a can do attitude offer, we still need skill.

Case in point, the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial.

Here he is standing next to Obama.

Sign Language

Doesn’t he look confident?

He’s standing next to the leader of the free world, signing a message that millions of people around the world will see.

So brave, so bold, so courageous.

Unfortunately, there’s only one problem. He’s faking it. (You can read the whole story here.)

Reports came out the day after that he had made it all up. Sign language experts said he was just waving his arms around. Turns out he was high on confidence and low on talent. He’s saying now that he was overwhelmed by the activity and maybe had a nervous breakdown. If that’s the case this is a completely different story, but South African deaf groups have complained about this particular interpreter in the past so it’s hard to figure out what’s true. (Doesn’t this whole thing seem like something George Constanza from Seinfeld would do? The sea was angry that day my friends.)

I hope you are confident in your abilities, but more than that, I hope you take the time to get some.

Confidence without skills makes you look silly.