It was a typical board meeting. Twenty-five dedicated people gathered together and proceeding through the agenda. A topic of some debate was introduced. The discussion became more and more heated, when one of the members stood up, took the floor, and proceeded to launch a vicious verbal attack on everyone in the room. It was ugly. It was unnerving. It was one of the worst moments in my life. I wanted and needed to speak up. To stop it. But, all my fears, past mistakes, insecurities and lack of self-worth bubbled up in my brain, my heart and my soul – and I could not speak – I could not move.
I so needed to be in that moment and stop the madness, but I was paralyzed. Paralyzed by fear. And afterward, I was mortified. Mortified, that because of my own lack of self-confidence in that moment, I allowed another person to humiliate, embarrass and go on a destructive rampage against a group of my most respected and valued colleagues. I could have stopped it. I wanted to stop it. I didn’t.
Have you ever felt this way? Your circumstances were different, of course, but have you ever found yourself in this kind of self-inflicted, self-defeating atrophy of mind, body and spirit? The truth is, most (if not all) of us have at one time or another. And for some, more often than others.
Why does this happen and what can we do about it?
Volumes have been written, miles of film taken, innumerable programs, processes and training developed, and oceans of research done on this very human and critical condition – self-confidence.
In the aftermath of the experience I just shared with you, I made a very conscious and purposeful decision to never have that happen again. That’s when I began a very personal quest to understand what self-confidence is and why we seem to have it sometimes, and other times, not at all; to understand where it comes from and how to develop it; and to learn how we can maintain it in every aspect of our lives – all of the time.
Here are some of the things I have learned thus far (and the journey continues):
- Self-confidence is as much about believing and trusting in ourselves as it is about PRESENCE. This was a critical awareness in my own self-understanding. And, presence can be taught and learned. It has an enormous impact on self-confidence.
- Many of us often wonder if we are as talented as everyone thinks we are. The Imposter Syndrome takes over and you suspect that luck and circumstance may have played a big part in your getting to where you are today.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…We ask ourselves,” Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”
- In our early years of development, we are exposed to a great deal of negative conditioning. We are not even aware of it as we grow older, and yet it manifests itself in reactions to people and situations that can be self-defeating and disabling. Here’s a short video where I share a few more thoughts on this topic.
- That we can, and indeed must, retrain our brains to become our best and most confident self.
- We can learn self-confidence.
- We can learn courage.
- We can develop a deep understanding of ourselves that takes us to incredible levels of strength, calm and steadiness.
We all know that confidence is a critical aspect of our success and our own feelings of self-worth – it can make or break us – it is THE game-changer.
How would having a deep sense of self-confidence; a genuine understanding of your strengths; an unflappable belief in yourself; and a powerful presence impact your success, happiness and ability to achieve what you are capable of achieving?
You can do this. Start with writing a vision statement of what you sound like, look like, feel like and how others ‘see’ you when you are 100% engaged in the moment and 100% focused on the people and situation, when you feel confident, when you are intentional?
Once you have a vision in place, you can begin to focus on tangible steps to take to go from this vision of confidence to becoming confident. As Amy Cuddy says, “fake it until you become it”.
Walk tall. Speak truly. Be you.