At times I have thought that my wardrobe, experience, credentials, connections, or a bold attitude would give me confidence. These things are helpful, but they are not the source of confidence.
In college, I decided to take a law class my freshman year despite it being an upper level class. The subject seemed interesting, it fit my schedule, and, having done well in high school, I didn’t even think twice about the level of the course until the first day of class. I soon realized that the others in the class were far more experienced college students than I was.
I worked hard; I studied like crazy to keep up, and did well until the day I was supposed to give a presentation in class. I meandered to the front of the class. Breaking into a sweat with my heart racing, I began. About five minutes into the presentation, I had no idea what I had said, where I was in the presentation, or what to do to salvage the moment. It was humiliating to stand before a class of older, wiser students, red in the face and confused!
My confidence was shaken! For years after that moment I avoided public speaking. I doubted myself and my abilities. Insecurity was the lingering feeling. We all have places in our life that make us unsure. Places where more confidence would be a tremendous help not only for us, but for those around us. The upper classmen in the room that fateful day also felt the awkwardness of that moment.
What’s the secret to operating in a more confident way? Awareness: the more clarity I have about myself the more confident I become. Understanding my personality, values, calling, passions, goals, and identity in Christ, allow who I am to become clear. When my focus is walking in that boldly it makes me more confident.
These days, I actually enjoy the opportunity to teach a workshop or speak.
Now and then I get off track. I engage in behaviors that undermine my confidence. Here are just a few:
1. Comparing myself to others.
When I compare myself, I am using the wrong gauge to measure myself. God has created me to be me. The question is not am I doing as well or better than so-and-so, the question is am I walking fully in who God created me to be?
2. Blaming others for my failures.
When I accept responsibility for my life and my success, is it empowering. It puts me back in charge of my life and motivates me to grow, change, and face challenges.
3. Living outside my boundaries.
When I try to control others and manage everything around me it is exhausting. It is effort wasted. The only place I can experience forward momentum is in my own life by doing the things I was created to do.
4. Giving in to fear.
Fear is consuming! When it has captured my attention it is impossible to stay focused on who I am. We all feel fear at times, yet the more I recognize its presence and push past it, the easier it gets. When I realize that making mistakes is part of learning and growing fear loses some of its sting. It allows me to operate from a more courageous place.
Complaining creates a negative spiral down! It takes my focus off the person I want to be and causes me to dwell on the lack or the perceived lack I am feeling. It pushes the people around me away and attracts more negativity.
6. Being too self-focused.
Time spent with people who genuinely care about me is energizing and pleasant. That’s the kind of person I want to be – one who is focused on others in a way that leaves them feeling loved and served. That winsome kind of attitude is what is at the heart of a great leader.
7. The wrong company.
Time in the company of negative people is contagious. I must be wise about who I chose to spend time with. The flip side is also true – positive people are also contagious! Their encouragement gives me a boost!
Admitting that I was a freshman and needed time to adapt to college life would have helped to cultivate confidence back in the day!
What steps can you take to improve your confidence? Where do you need to become more self-aware? What habits do you engage in that undermine your confidence?
Working with a life coach is an effective way to increase awareness and work through habits, mindsets and behaviors that are holding you back from being all you can be!