Do you have a friend that is annoyingly confident? She bounces into a room with no apprehension of being judged, she can jump into a conversation without fear of rejection, or she’s the person that believes in herself even when the things aren’t going great. She’s confident. And it annoys you.
I am that friend. I am that confident annoying friend. It’s not to say that I am better than anyone, have a perfect life, or have it all figured out. But I do believe in my ability to figure things out. I know I can connect to others. And, when in the mood, I can network the hell out of a cocktail party!
How do I know I am that friend? Because one of my closest friends, who's known me since the 7th grade, has a very funny skit she performs about my confidence level. And you know what’s even funnier? The fact that her own confidence shines through with each performance.
Confidence isn’t about a belief. We can all get in our heads, tear ourselves apart, and feel shame or a lack of courage. We can get in our own way. Confidence comes to us as we act, build our ability and capacity, and understand how to do something well. The first time you do anything, it’s going to feel a bit strange. Think back to your first yoga, dance, or exercise class. I always meet people that are intimidated by yoga because they’ve seen the Instagram photos of people doing advanced postures beautifully. We must remember that they didn’t start there. They started by getting on the mat.
When I first moved to New York City many, many years ago, I hated walking into restaurants to meet friends for dinner or drinks. I felt self-conscious, I tore myself apart for every little thing, and I lacked serious self-confidence. But I have lived in this city for a while now and at some point, it was either starve, learn to cook or build the ability to walk into a restaurant comfortably. I perfected the latter of those three choices.
It sounds silly, but I remember coaching myself with thoughts like; ‘no one cares about you, they have their own drama going on’ or ‘yeah, people may take you in for a moment and then there are 17 other things to look at’. Those types of thoughts just took the pressure off. This small example translated into other areas of my life. I was able to repeat the pattern of walking into a room, head held high, and shoulders back while at work. I entered conference rooms with senior leaders and acted like I belonged. I facilitated workshops in front of 20 – 30+ people and felt comfortable in front of the group. I was able to walk down the hallways at work with a lot of executive presence intact because I conquered my discomfort when out in public when I first moved to the city.
Why is confidence so important? The personal reason is our relationship with ourselves. As women, we must stop shaming ourselves and believing we are not equal or worthy. Professionally, the lack of confidence in our abilities and skills stops us from applying for a bigger role, asking for the raise or promotion, and raising our hand for an exciting project. It’s costing us emotionally and monetarily.
Don’t fall for the mind’s trick thought of ‘I’m not confident enough to (fill in the blank)’. Instead, take the idea or action and look at it from several angles. How can you do the thing that makes you nervous? What thoughts or mantras can you repeat to support the action? What small step can you take to get this thing going?
The funny thing is that you can have this deep internal conflict and as you are out in the world taking small steps and actions, all people see is a person making their way through life. The ‘they’ that you may think are judging you are probably too busy to notice you at all. They are either too busy on their phone or thinking about their own issues. So be free to act and build your confidence through small steps that can be applied to all areas of your life.
If you haven’t taken the 1 hour and 16 minutes to watch the Brene Brown Special on Netflix, ‘The Call to Courage’, take some time for yourself and dig in. She mentions the following quote and I want to share these inspiring words to help you build the ability to stay in action, be courageous, and feel extremely confident in everything you do.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
-Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States of America