The Secret to Self-Confidence

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


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