Sixth in the series letters to my kids…
I hope you are thoughtfully reading these emails, I do spend time thinking about how you could benefit from thoughtfully reading the content before deciding to send it to you. I think about the things I wish I knew more about or had someone talk to me about earlier in life… now that I know more about what matters in navigating the world we live in and only send things that I think are useful.
Confidence is one of those difficult topics. Sure some people don’t need to practice having confidence, just like some people don’t have to practice that hard at reading. As with anything though – practice is what levels the playing field. Only with practice can any skill rise to level of supremacy. The same is true for reading, writing, confidence, charisma, running, walking, the list just keeps going. The more practice you have the more likely you’ll be to be the best at the thing you are practicing.
For confidence, the thing that you need to practice most is being comfortable with being yourself. You need to be ok with being wrong and looking silly. You need to be ok with hearing all sorts of ideas and accepting the ideas that are better than yours. You need to be comfortable with where your limits start and where your limits end.
People who are not confident have difficulty being wrong and often look for ways to blame others for shortcomings. People who are not confident talk too much and don’t do much listening.
Obviously just going through the motions won’t turn you into a confident person. But as you observe yourself not exhibiting confident behavior you need to reflect and think about what you are missing that will allow you to exhibit confident behaviors. If you are afraid of getting a bad grade on a test, are you comfortable with the amount of effort that you put into the test? Did you truly put in all the studying and practicing that you require to master the topic? Are you able to sit back and say to yourself “Whatever grade I get on this thing is going to be well deserved because I know I put in all that I can and then some”. If you can’t say that to yourself (and only saying it to yourself matters) than you aren’t comfortable with failing the test and are therefore not confident when you walk into the take the test.
The same applies to anything else in life, confidence is something deep inside of you that is the result of your comfort with your own abilities and inabilities. I hope that as you find yourself in situations where you are confident you recognize what it took to get there. I also hope that as you find yourself in situations where you are not confident you can identify what you need to do differently to be confident.