Confidence is an interesting thing. It appears that some people have a surplus and others are struggling mightily to gather enough to get through the day. I know truly brilliant, accomplished people who see themselves as insignificant and have no idea they’re giants. And then there are those who are punished for having what some might consider too much confidence. Wherever you might find yourself on this business of confidence we all have our experience trying to build authentic confidence from earnest accomplishment and trying to remain confident in circumstances that challenge us to our marrow.
What I can tell you from my own experience is that you can’t wait for confidence to do big, exciting things like ask for a deal, negotiate a raise or put yourself out into the world. Confidence is born of doing big things. You have to do things before you’re ready to do them. The most confident, remarkable people I know take risks. The confident people of the world are not more prepared or necessarily more skilled or even more talented, they are simply bold.
Confidence isn’t built in a day and sometimes it’s a fragile membrane that can easily be punctured. It’s not as if once we have confidence, we can never lose it. Many of us are searching in the backs of drawers and under sofas for our confidence that we seemed to have mislaid. Sometimes we think we are home free with an abundance of confidence when some old wound rises and reminds us of our fragility. It knocks the breath right out of us. A bad review at work, a lost deal, an unkind word from someone we love can shake us to our core. We can have it and lose it in a paragraph, a swallow of coffee, or the blink of any eye.
A lack of confidence keeps people from being able to live their full potential. It’s hard to move forward with the weight of uncertainly pulling you to the earth. It’s easier to be still and not exert too much energy. But that instinct to be still can paralyze you and devour your spirit. Extraordinary people who are still with the crushing weight of uncertainty no longer astonish me. It’s more common than you can imagine. I no longer wonder how it is so.
Recently, an entrepreneur asked me if I ever had any doubt when I was building my business. She assumed that I had eaten some magical beans handed to me by a fairy that some how exiled my doubt to a far away land. I told her the truth. Doubt was more like a fire-breathing dragon that I battled everyday. When you are building something from nothing with a checking account that’s becoming smaller by the minute, you have to get the biggest, badass damned sword you can locate and battle that dragon. It can be exhausting at times and there were moments that I thought for sure I had slain the dragon but it turned out that he was just napping that day or wounded, but no where near dead.
If I could I would gift you a big box of fluffy confidence as light and airy as a cloud and as strong and lasting as stone. Your bad review, nasty client, or painful divorce doesn’t define you. It’s a moment. It’s okay to cry when you learn that you aren’t getting paid your worth or that you really don’t want this job or business you started, but you have to stop crying and wash your face and go do something big. Ask for the raise or quit the job or leave the relationship or fire the client or do what ever that thing is that will make you stronger even if at the moment you feel small and fragile. Confidence is built through action. Go and do and eventually it will rise up from you. If today is a day you are feeling fragile, take a big breath as deep as the ocean and go and do something big and scary. I wish you strength.