If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.
I spend a lot of time with folks who are afraid. And who are in pain because of that fear.
I’ve been reminded of this in these first six months of 2021. And not because of Covid.
Linda (names changed) is a client who told me in our first session that, “Trouble has followed me all my life.”
It was a dramatic statement and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Linda takes comfort in her victimhood. She thrives (yes, thrives) from the anger she feels because her earlier career plans have never materialized.
Erin reached out to me a few days after I first Zoomed with Linda. She, too, made a startling statement, telling me that she doesn’t want to be ordinary, “I don’t want to play it safe forever.”
What is the difference between these two women?
Linda is harsh and demanding with herself. She walked away from her dream of becoming a CPA because she believed it “can’t” happen. She told me that in school she wasn’t able to attain a perfect GPA and she believed she needed a perfect GPA in order to become a successful CPA and so, she dropped out of school.
In one of our sessions Linda lamented, “I don’t know who I am.”
If you are a stern, unforgiving perfectionist, can you ever know who you are?
Constantly, you question – doubt – distrust – yourself.
Linda boasted to me that she has no tolerance for “bs,” yet, she is the one bs-ing herself, dismissing me when I pointed out that some of the best professionals I’ve encountered had less that sterling GPA’s.
Erin was traumatized when her business entered bankruptcy. She emotionally shut down and for five-years refused to do anything that would challenge her in any significant way.
She remained productive – but within strict bounds. She didn’t want to experience failure again and so she opted to play it safe.
In our last session, Erin told me she’s at a point where she knows someday she wants to run her own company again, proclaiming, “I don’t want to be stuck in the past.”
Linda, too, has told me that she wants to revive her dream of becoming a CPA and working in Import/Export – but – she doesn’t smile when she shares the dream. There’s no excitement in her voice. And that’s because she doubts she can bring her dream to life. Her mantra is: “I tried. I failed. That’s it.”
Linda constantly asks – why?
Erin has begun to ask herself – why not?
Two women. Two dreams.
Each reached out to me for help – but each wanted me to help in starkly different ways. Linda wanted me to help her prove that she can’t succeed. Erin wanted me to help her succeed.
Linda is hypnotized with the phrase, “Why bother?”
Erin is energized by being “bothered.”
How do you become “bothered” again after having been curled-up in a heap for so long?
I’ve personally grappled with this and I’m now convinced that confidence is a process – a process of putting one step in front of the other, no matter how futile you think those steps might be.
Confidence is the process of coming to terms with the reality that Perfection is no ally.
Confidence is the process of acknowledging that “Win or Lose,” action is always demanded.
Peter Sterling wrote that –
Change is not something that passively happens to you, but rather something you are in regular conversation with.
I love that image – having a regular conversation with “change” and so having a regular conversation with “confidence.”
And the two questions that have to be asked in that conversation are –
- What’s the worst thing that could happen?
- What’s the best thing that could happen?
Ultimately, in an honest conversation, you figure out a way in either scenario to “handle it.”
As I wrote in the beginning. . .
People come to me afraid.
Afraid for a litany of reasons:
I will not be recognized
I will not be rewarded
I will be judged “less than”
I will hurt someone
I will not be able to recover from a disastrous mistake
I will not be able to “handle” it
I will not succeed
All that fear is bound-up in some sort of lie.
95% of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies
and we suffer because we believe all these lies.
Don Miguel Ruiz / The Four Agreements
The great truth is –
Confidence is not a state of being that can be attained. It is a process. A never-ending process that becomes a way of being.
I’m now convinced you can’t become confident all by yourself as confidence does not take place within a vacuum.
Linda meets with a therapist and with me – but – I have the nagging sense that she doesn’t trust us and is using us to prove that she is beyond help.
Erin has created her “Committee” of three trusted friends to help her set a new five-year plan. Working with me and her Committee, she’s determined to remain freed from the echo chamber of lies she can so easily tell herself.
Here’s the thing –
Confidence implies action and action implies others – others who hold us accountable, cheer us on as we continually learn how to act in and through and from confidence.
Earlier I asked what the difference is between Erin and Linda. And I now think the difference is that Erin has not just “fire in the belly” to change, she has a “Committee” that she trusts and that she allows to call her out on her bs while Linda is stuck in that echo chamber – alone.
Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.
What are YOU changing? What are YOU choosing?
Now THAT’S the business of confidence!