Recently, I went to a small reunion with several of my best friends from elementary school. It's funny how we were all different and yet the same and how we quickly picked up the familiarity we had amongst ourselves about fifteen years ago. One of my friends remarked, "You know, you were always so confident. I remember that about you."
I reeled in surprise because I had never thought of the younger version of myself in that way. I know I'm confident now, but then...? Sure, I was a perfectionist, I was comfortable in my own skin...but I remember not being confident when talking to boys (but then again, it seems most girls aren't at that age, exceptions acknowledged), and I don't remember actively seeking out the limelight.
So, it got me thinking why I was remembered that way, and what are the steps I've taken to become even more confident in my adult years. What is confidence? According to Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary, confidence is "trust; reliance; applied to one's own abilities or fortune; belief in one's own competency." The basis for confidence is trust. To have trust, there must be belief in a certain reality. In the case of confidence, you believe you can do it.
George S. Patton, one of the greatest generals of WWII, stated the following:
Now if you're going to win any
battle you have to do one thing.
You have to make the mind run
the body. Never let the body tell
the mind what to do. The body
will always give give up. It is
always tired in the morning
noon, and night. But the body is
never tired if the mind is not tired.
Okay, so we're not physically waging a war, but life is a series of battles we can overcome.
1) The Mind Is Top Priority
We've established that confidence stems from the belief that we can do what we set out to do. The mind is the integral piece in belief. Do you want to set up your own business and run it successfully? Do you dream of striking it big in the movie or theatre industry? Do you have a vision and passion for setting up a charity or fundraiser?
The first step you need to take toward your goals and dreams is just believe that you can do it. Does your lack of know-how, or your humble beginnings, or your life-scarring experiences block you from taking that first step? I don't pretend to know every single negative feeling that each individual feels. However, I have had my share of difficult times. I've discovered that it's quite easy to be "comfortable" in the uncomfortable.
Let me explain: There was a situation that I was in that I knew I shouldn't stay in, but I was scared to jump out and reach for something better. I was scared that others would judge me or scared that I would hurt them by leaving. The back and forth warring in my mind and heart was draining and frustrating to say the least. I did leave. And once I did, I smiled with relief, feeling free of the shackles I had put upon myself.
You're afraid of change, and that's okay. Bravery is non-existent without fear. Don't let your fear command you. Command your fear to move to the side so you can step in the direction of endless possibilities.
2) Try New Things
Bending your mind to your will requires discipline. Discipline requires countless opportunities to enact it, meaning you need practice. Back to how I've grown in confidence, I actively seek out new opportunities to push my boundaries and try new things. There's always a little fear with every new thing I try, but every time I practice, my fear shrinks until now, I swat it with my hand to the side and it scrambles away from my steps.
The last time I actively had to move my fear out of the way was when I rose to the challenge of driving a 25 ft. trailer from Montreal to Toronto. I was the stage manager for a theatre troupe. We had secured a tour for our production in several different locations around Toronto. We piled all our bins of costumes, props, and stages into the trailer. Then off we went to Toronto. I had never done anything like this before. I hadn't even practiced! The craziest part was driving in heavy Toronto traffic with my truck and trailer and turning at small intersections. It wasn't always easy, but I grew from this experience.
I believed I could do it and had the basic necessary skills of pulling off such a feat.
3) Work Hard at Giving Your Belief a Firm Foundation
Belief without a foundation is flimsy at best and doesn't hold up in the harsh world around us. You've mastered your mind, or are in the process of doing so...now put the work in. Take the necessary actions to accomplish your goals or dreams. Reverse engineer...you want this reality. What are the steps to reaching it? You've figured it out, now do it. If you lack the necessary skills, learn them, know them, until you're breathing them.
What if you fail? It's more like when you fail...what then? Failure propped by confidence encourages further confidence. It means that when you fall flat on your face and the scars are there for all to see and yet you are confident that you can rise and you do, your confidence will grow because you've experienced victory and you'll know you can achieve it again. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Write in the comments below on what or who helps boost your confidence and how. Let's all learn from and encourage each other.