The Secret to Self-Confidence

by  Mary C. Schaefer  |  Self Leadership

I used to think self-confidence meant I would never have a doubt.  When I think a back on this significant experience in my life, I realize that’s not true.

In 1997, this I knew… I would leave my corporate job in my 20th year with my employer, in 2004.

I made plans to start my own business.  I set the foundation, got my environment ready, got my head ready, made lists, took action, and got excited.   It was clear that my corporate job was draining my energy and impacting my health.  I did not feel that staying in that job fed my integrity.  And yet…

So many doubts.  So much second-guessing.

But in 2004 when it came to make that decision final, that is, put in my notice, it was nearly the most difficult thing I had ever done.  Questions like this wouldn’t go away:

  • This job pays so well and benefits are great, am I sure I can’t make this work?
  • What makes me so special that I think I need to leave?
  • There are a lot of people here I respect and they are making it work.
  • What makes me think I can go out on my own and be successful?  Isn’t that a little arrogant?

Now not only my job was making me sick, but also deciding whether or not to leave was making me sick!  I took vacation for a week to clear my head.  When I got back to my desk, I was sick to my stomach and crying within hours, overwhelmed at the prospect of giving my energy to something that was no longer feeding my soul.

Self-confidence and doubt are not mutually exclusive.

It was then I knew there would be no more lists, no more careful analysis or studying of pros and cons.  I was done.   My higher self, and body, was sending me a message.  There was no ideal day to do this.  There was no analysis I could do that would make me certain that this was the ideal thing to do.  I had to trust where my best judgment and intuition had taken me so far and just do it.  I immediately felt relieved.

I hadn’t revisited this story in a long time.  For some reason the word self-confidence comes up in a way it did not before.  It takes on a different connotation than it ever has for me.  It doesn’t mean we never have a doubt.  It does mean:

  • We are willing to take responsibility for the consequences of our decisions, despite uncertainties.
  • We are confident in our ability to weather whatever comes our way.
  • We believe we are capable of adapting as situations change.

It is so easy to want a guaranteed outcome.  Current real-world examples include wanting the wanting to be able to count on our pension plans, Social Security, the value of our home.  Some of these “sure-things” are now blown out of the water.

Where does that leave us?  It doesn’t need to leave us decimated by our external circumstances.  It can leave us trusting in our abilities to survive and thrive despite the challenges —maybe even because of the challenges.

What does self-confidence mean to you?

Image: Microsoft Clipart Gallery


About The Author

Articles By mary-schaefer
Speaker, coach and trainer Mary Schaefer’s expertise is in creating work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive. She is a former HR manager. Find out more about how Mary helps managers empower themselves to make the most of their human resources with this special collection of articles selected for LCG readers:  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Natalie Finstad  |  18 Sep 2012  |  Reply

I love the second definition of self-confidence, that we are sure we will be able to weather whatever comes are way. For me, this is a confidence in the universe as a whole and my ability to really be a part of the whole.Sometimes I can do this on my own – most of the time I need a lot of help! However, self-confidence is knowledge that as long as I show up, ask for help when I need it and truly invest in whatever I’m doing, things will be okay.

Mary C Schaefer  |  19 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Thanks for commenting, Natalie. I love that you expanded your thinking to confidence in the universe as a whole and your part in it. Thank you for the reminder. Mary

Join The Conversation