First things first, this will may generate more discussion than any of my previous blogs and I may be the farthest from other peoples’ opinions on this topic. Or it may be dead on. It’s not something that can or should be covered in one blog, hence the title this week. I’m confident of that.
I don’t believe that self confidence is a black and white thing. I don’t believe it’s something one person has in entirety and another completely lacks. I don’t even believe that one person feels confident in everything they do. That’s a thing for Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World. Even the most compelling superheroes have moments of self doubt when facing the most daunting challenges. On the other hand, even the least secure of us have something that we are really good at. Something that gives us joy. Something that we can do well and just tune out the rest of the world while we’re doing it.
Everyone falls somewhere in the spectrum of mortal man to superhero. Even Michael Phelps knows he isn’t going to win every gold medal at every Olympics in his life. Michael Jordan’s baseball career didn’t exactly revolutionize that sport. Warren Buffet surely picks some stinker investments. Steve Jobs and Apple were on the brink of being irrelevant at one point. Not everyone wins all the time and that knowledge lies in all of us. It can drive us to try harder or shrink from an unsurmountable task. And there are times when that effort – or lack thereof – doesn’t change an outcome.
What self confidence does is give us the ability to keep trying. It gives us the flip side that can dispell the doubt. It helps us motivate ourselves in our own ways. And without that, the chances of success are vastly less. Burried in here is the concept of concern over an outcome. Just as doubt can make us say “What if I’m not good enough” or “What if I don’t succeed”, self confidence can help us say “I can do it.” Self confidence can also help us say “Who cares.”
“Who cares” is ultimately what drives our confidence level and how it ties to an outcome. It may be what your friends would think if you fell on your face or overcame a big hurdle. It may be that your boss will think you’re the person who needs to be watched or the person to call when then need a ninja to take down a tough task. It may be that parent you always try so hard to please. All these people matter. But they’re all secondary when it comes to self confidence. The core of who matters in self confidence is right there in the term. It’s you. Nobody else can really live in your skin and nobody else faces the impact of your effort and the results. Validation from an outside source is nice and accolades are terrific. But at that point, you probably already know or suspect that you’ve done well.
I recently read a blog about The 15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy. Some have to do with self confidence but all have to do with being at peace with yourself. To me, that’s where self confidence lives. It’s knowing that I can get something done and that what I’ve done is the best anyone, especially myself, can accomplish given the circumstances.
I don’t believe that self confidence has much to do with being an introvert or an extrovert. There is the term “quiet confidence” and there’s also the kind of person who others look at as magnetic leaders. While visible confidence can certainly help in leadership, competence and consistency mean more than false bravado. Competence at a given thing and being able to perform consistently well drive real confidence and that’s what makes you really stand out. How you express that and be your true self are what make you shine – to others and to yourself.