What does it mean to be confident? Would you call yourself confident? Are you confident in a particular area of your life or field of expertise? When you step into unexplored roles or arenas, do you struggle with confidence? Or are you confident in yourself and call upon your inner confidence to step into new roles, find new answers and gain new experiences?
The word confidence comes from the Latin, confidere, which means “to have full trust”. Therefore, self-confidence is having full trust in yourself. People strive for excellence in specific fields or areas in their lives. They become experts in their specialised subject, and they are very confident in that arena. Yet, take them out of that specialism, and suddenly their confidence has been pulled out from underneath them. Like the rug has been pulled out from under their feet. Their confidence gives way to not trusting themselves.
Character building Confidence
It is as if the hard work, perseverance and application to study, learn and grow in a given area have not been fully acknowledged or integrated into their larger life. This person has not grown as a person. They may have grown in knowledge, experience and skills, but this does not seem to impact on who they are. How does being great at poetry make you a great man or woman? What shift do you need to make in your thinking to turn someone who is great at science or sport or beekeeping into an individual with character?
In the poem “If”, Rudyard Kipling speaks of character, of the qualities I believe build confidence. Not once does he speak about being a lawyer, accountant, teacher or any other profession. Nor does he say you need to be rich, spiritual, religious or any other group to belong to. He speaks to building the qualities in a person that evoke trust and belief in oneself. That person will not be universally liked, or good at everything they turn their hand to. Instead, the things this person learns to do will help to forge those qualities that build character.
Confidence is inherent and your birth-right
So, confidence is about learning to cultivate those qualities that I believe human beings have at birth. They are inherent within us. A child knows only trust and can only communicate openly, honestly and authentically. Once we learn the need to mask that behaviour, in an attempt to conform and fit in, we begin to lose that confidence in who we are at our core. The trust in ourselves begins to diminish and as a result our trust in the world around us. Yet, that kernel of trust and inner truth is never far away. We simply need to tap into that inherent wisdom.
Think of a time when you were confident. Perhaps it was playing sport or a musical instrument. Maybe you felt convinced by an idea you believed in totally or discovered something you know to be true. When you recall it, what does it feel like in your body? What feels possible from this place? Allow yourself to be filled up with this feeling.
You have conjured a feeling of confidence, brought it alive in you in this moment. Now think of the other achievements you have attained in your life. How capable do you feel? How do the current challenges in your life appear to you now? Is there possibility, confidence and a way forward for you now?
Confidence and Presence
In my workshops, I use Patsy Rodenburg’s concept of 3 energy circles to explore confidence and presence. Second circle is about being universally confident. Rather than be confident in a particular situation, you develop confidence in yourself so that you have the belief you can do anything. You may not know all the answers or know what to do, but you know you have SOMETHING about you that says you can do this. Learning, trial and error, failure, reflection, integration and perseverance will all play a part in that process- beneath that lies a foundation of confidence in who you are and what you are capable of.
Any life situation can be used to develop confidence in you as a person. It takes you to look at the situation slightly differently. You are probably used to doing something really well like riding a bike, or having challenging conversations, or fixing things, or gardening or or or……… and you might say that you are confident at doing that thing.
Growing the whole person
I would like you to think of it differently. Rather than this skill developing a part of you or an aspect of your character or skill set, think of it as growing all of you, developing the whole of you, making you stronger, more capable, competent, versatile. The skill, situation or whatever it is, becomes the entry point to grow you as a whole person. Like the leaves of a tree- they grow and go about their business to grow the whole tree, just as the roots draw water and nutrients for the whole. Every action makes the tree larger, stronger and more resilient.
You grow in your character and your belief that “if I can learn to do this, then I can learn all sorts of things”. Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset- How to Fulfil your Potential and TED talk The Power of Believing you can Improve, speaks about praising people for the hard work and effort they put into a piece of work. This Growth Mindset leads to greater confidence because people believe they have the underlying ability to learn whatever they need to learn and do whatever they need to do to succeed. There is a curiosity, inquisitive exploration and thirst to discover. Your work grows you as a person. You grow in confidence that you have what it takes.
Training and Coaching Confidence
Coaching and Mindful Movement workshops aim to grow the whole person. They grow your character, confidence and presence. As you grow in these qualities, you bring them into whatever situations you might face in life. You will learn what you need, you will gain the experience, you will discover your resources and resilience. It requires you to be open and willing to learn continually. And it empowers you to bounce back again and again when setbacks and disappointments inevitably arise.
So, being confident is not about having all the answers or always being right. Confidence is about trust. Trust that you will remain engaged in the process of your growth and the growth of others. That you will see something through to the end and stand by what you believe in. Trust that you have the character to learn from others, lead with compassion and guide with insight and empathy. Confidence does not mean you are perfect. It means you are a great boss, a loving father or mother, a present partner and a life-loving member of humanity.
Over to you
Do you feel confident? Are you confident in a particular area in your life, or do you feel you have a core foundation of confidence? How would having that core self-confidence change things for you? What are you going to do to build that core confidence?
On July 18th, 2019, I will be running the next Be the Best Boss workshop in Cambridge. We will be looking at confidence and presence and how that can have a positive impact on your business as a self-employed solopreneur and on your career as you work up the professional ladder of success in employment. Further details and tickets are available at the link. Or, if you have further questions, get in touch.
Pass it on
If you know someone who would benefit from more confidence and presence, why not send them the link for the workshop. They may also enjoy this blog? I’d appreciate it if you spread the word and shared it with friends, family and colleagues. Thank you.