5 steps to confidence

confidence and vulnerability

How can I appear more confident, a nervous woman asks me.

At a time like this, it would be easy to tell her to fake it until she makes it, but what she is telling me, I can see with her eyes and body language, is that she doesn’t even know how to fake it.  Her sense of defeat is palpable.  What she needs isn’t a dear but sometimes hard to pull off crucible.  What she needs is to know how to become more confident so she doesn’t have to worry about being ‘found out’.  Because this one nervous woman is not alone, here are five ways to increase your confidence.

Get to know yourself.  Want to exude self-love? Spend time figuring out who you are and what you are about.  Journal.  Have long conversations with loved ones.  Take assessments like Strengthsfinder 2.0. Spend time with yourself.  In order to celebrate what it is you have to offer, you have to know exactly who you are.  Don’t dodge introspection; knowing yourself is the foundation for confidence.

Offer your best stuff.  People become known for things, and it is often that recognition that breeds confidence.  Sally is a computer wizard.  Tasha works numbers like magic.  Lorenzo knows just how to pitch an idea.  What is your best stuff?  Whether it is your roast chicken or your ability to organize any space, offer your special gifts to others and see your confidence soar.

Push yourself.  While it is great to have a skill or two to really embrace, it is also important to keep growing.  At a new job years ago, I quickly realized that my co-workers already had my go to skills- creativity and big picture thinking- in spades.  How can I best help my team, I wondered.  What we needed was a details person. I became a details person to help that team.  Teams I am on now just assume that is always how I have been.  The reality is that confidence ultimately comes from proof, from your belief in yourself that you have something worth giving and can figure it out.  Have at it.

But know when to defer.  While there are some things you can quite adequately or even sensationally learn, there are other things you should just let go and give to someone else who can shine in that area.  Despite my efforts, I will never be a technological wizard. One way to insure I feel badly about myself is to attempt to update my web-page.  I bypass the personal angst, though, and turn it over to my brilliant web designer.  Skip the stuff that is just going to make you beat yourself up. It’s not worth the blow.         

Don’t worry about being infallible.  So often, we want confidence because we want to be impenetrable.  But confidence doesn’t mean we’re bullet-proof.  It simply means we know what we have to offer and that if we run into something we can’t handle, we know how to ask for help.  Confidence isn’t the absence of vulnerability.  It is the ability to stand in vulnerability but to say I am still worth believing in.  At the most, I can do this; at the very least, I will try.  Confidence is about being real.  If you are scared, nervous, excited, or anything else, say it.  Claiming our whole selves is actually the surest cornerstone to confidence.

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