I’ll begin with this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
It is a great quote which reminds us that without our acknowledgement no one can put us down. However, it is easier said than done.
Confidence, although it sounds simple, is not simple at all. It is complex and it is not biased. Many people from all walks of life suffer from lack of it. Some find their way while others continue this lonely journey until the end.
Many folks go through life failing to realize their potential because they lack confidence. These people are not dumb or inept; they are bright and have achieved great marks in their academic pursuit. However, confidence is still lacking. Why?
Confidence is something that is shaped by your environment. The people you’re around and those who influence you. It is also attributed to life events and things that occurred in your life.
Growing up, I had my fair share of suffering lack of self-confidence. In my situation, it was the people close to me who affected me the most. I was not the brightest or the smartest amongst the children of my parents. The strong emphasis on academic achievement was the key measure used by my parents.
I was told repeatedly that I wasn’t smart like my siblings, that I would not be able to accomplish things in life and that my future would be bleak. People around us, including teachers, often made comparisons that I wasn’t as good as my siblings. It did not help at all. People’s perception becomes your reality when things seem to be falling into place which further reaffirm everyone’s perception. It took me many years to snap out of it.
How Do You Develop Confidence?
- Loving Yourself - Acknowledging that you have a unique talent and abilities, that you exist in this world for a specific reason. Seek to find that meaning and be at peace with it. It is a journey and the more you do the more you get to know yourself. It is like peeling an onion; each layer enables you to know more about yourself.
- Believing In Yourself - We are all born with unique gifts and talents. No one knows you better than yourself. Remember when you say you can’t, you’re really not able to do it. It is worth noting that world records are not created because people who said I can't.
- Take Stock, Start Small, Go One By One - Take Stock of things you cannot do. Then start small and tackle one of them. According to William Jennings Bryan, “The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.” This is exactly what I did. Now, instead of thinking "I cannot do it," I go ahead and do it and challenge myself. If I used to study three hours, I add one more hour and examine the outcome. If I can’t learn it one way, I ask someone for help and offer to help them too. Little by little you start to develop the competency and strength to improve your self-confidence.
- Don't Wait - Do It Now - Don't wait until everything is just right to start. It will never be perfect and the more you wait the more you’ll fall deeper in the hole of lack of confidence. Remember, building something requires you to start somewhere. Do it now even though you’re afraid. Remember that for each positive outcome, you’ll develop confidence. No matter what happens, life always has challenges and obstacles.
- List Your Strengths & Weaknesses - Continue to showcase your strengths and create an action plan on how you will address each of your weaknesses. By turning weaknesses around, you’ll begin to feel better about yourself. Remember that preparation is your friend. Waiting and doing nothing is your enemy.
- Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself - There is clearly nothing accomplished by feeling sorry for yourself. You start feeling sorry for yourself, hours and even days elapse; nothing changes and you’re still in the same situation. Therefore, what is the benefit of spending your precious energy in an unproductive exercise? Pick yourself up and dust things off and get back on the saddle. You can do it only if you do something about it.
- Ask For Help - We are not alone in this world, although we might feel that way sometimes. Ask for help, seek guidance and don’t do it alone.
- Celebrate Each Small Win - Learn to recognize that a big accomplishment consists of daily habit and practice. Therefore learn to enjoy your accomplishments and uplift your spirit.
I’ll close with this:
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Be yourself and overcome the fear of what people will say about you, because chances are they are not paying attention to you. Do not cloud your mind with worry when you can spend the same amount of energy making yourself better and achieving things you otherwise thought you could not accomplish.
In the end, when we conquer our fears, we will come out of our cocoon ready to tackle the world. Writing is a labor of love, share this to your friends who you think need a pick me up and a catalyst to jumpstart themselves.
Excellent post on a fascinating aspect of leadership competence … if we do not have confidence in ourselves, why should anyone else?
All your points are valid and well-stated, but the one which really resonated with me was when you pointed out the importance and impact of our environments. Who we hang around really does make a difference.
As a young leader, I sought out those who were most like me. Whether in a military, academic, or business environment, I wanted to be with others who saw the world as I did and who would reinforce my perceptions.
That is OK, up to a point. However, when I was forced by circumstances or structure to interact with and depend on others who were NOT just like me, that I grew in my own confidence.
Part of this was because I was now forced to support and defend my beliefs, rather than have them reinforced without any effort.
Thank you for a thought-provoking and interesting post:)