Where’s My Confidence?

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

T.S. Eliot

“If only I could find the confidence I need to do this.”

I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve said those words. This time it was related to the simplest of tasks; something I agreed was needed during a recent session with my coach. Yet once I was off the call I was paralyzed to move beyond a few steps. And the result was that I didn’t do what could and should have been done.

I waited for confidence and it never came.

It seems too often when I want to do something outside of my comfort zone, I can’t find the courage to do it. I make excuses and end up saying, “If only I could find the confidence I KNOW it would raise my level of assertiveness toward everything else I fear.” Sometimes that confidence does come. Yet, that is by far the exception.

We tend the think in what some might call “logical progressions” where feeling and knowing must come ahead of doing. We apply an educational process to our emotions – “Educate me with the information and give me the confidence that I can, and I will.”

Showing versus Having

Yep, we believe we need to feel confident before we can assertively accomplish anything important. That’s where I was.

And then I was reminded of something a friend once told me:

“Doing often comes before feeling”.

That was a timely and welcome bell going off in my head.

That same reminder was reinforced when I read a study on successful marriages that said “assertive couples experience more self-confidence”. That is, spouses who act with purpose and strength toward their partner experience greater confidence individually and together.

I froze for a moment as I began to realize how this applies universally. I recognized there were countless areas where I see myself and others “waiting for the confidence needed” instead of acting assertively and trusting the confidence to follow.

Get Down That Hill

I remember many years ago when I first learned to downhill ski. On my second day, I had worked my way up to the more challenging intermediate slopes when I stopped at the top of my first fear-filled run. I arrived to observe a family – a mom and dad and their 6 or 7-year-old daughter, who was crying, “No! I’m scared.” as they ordered her to “get moving down that hill”.

I knew that my fear mirrored hers. But I also knew that this challenge was what I was working toward. I didn’t know if I could make it without a horrific fall, but I had to try. So, after a minute of contemplation I took off down that steep, mogul-covered hill and somehow made it down. When I was done I felt a surge of confidence to keep going and eventually tackled the black diamond runs.

The definition of assertiveness means “showing a confident and forceful personality; being bold, decisive, and firm.” Showing not necessarily having.

So, what does this mean for me?

It’s an important reminder that there I things I just must do if I want to grow, confidence or no confidence. If it’s important, I’ll do it. I don’t need to tell myself “I CAN do this” but rather “I WILL do this.” and trust the confidence will follow.

Where do you need to let go of the need for confidence ahead of acting assertively?


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