Maybe it had something to do with my past and negative experiences such as being bullied as a child; growing up as an immigrant in an all-white environment; or being surrounded by others who seemed much more capable, wealthier, more attractive or stronger than me. But for decades fear, insecurity and self-doubt have been constant life companions for me.
Over the years what I have discovered is that the solution has very little to do with your past.
I’ve come to believe that every person can develop confidence by deeply engaging with 4 questions.
On the surface these questions seem simple. Maybe even simplistic. Don’t let that fool you. By deeply engaging with them your potential to develop confidence can be enormous.
1. Am I committed?
Do I really want to become or achieve or receive some specific goal?
How much do I really want what I say I want? How hungry am I?
Maybe the reason I am struggling with self-doubt or fear or insecurity is that I don’t really want what I am saying to myself I should have. In other words I am not really committed to what I am saying to myself I want.
I love the following quote by William Hutchinson Murray:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
The reason I allow myself to sit on the fence is that I am not sure I am committed. Until I am sure this is the right path to follow and I really want to pay the price to go down that path then there will be hesitancy and self-doubt.
So the key is do I really want this and am I willing to pay the price (in the broadest sense of the word – time, resources and effort)?
But once I am truly committed then God and the universe will respond. That may not necessarily be in the way I want or expect, but I will certainly learn from the experience.
For a simple personal story on that see 7 Lessons From A Passport.
2. Do I have the courage?
Courage is an interesting state of mind.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather courage is the inner strength to move forward while still afraid.
Or to put it another way, fear is what happens when you wet your pants. Courage is what you do with wet pants!
You never outgrow your need for courage – fear will always be there.
Apparently the Bible says 365 times ‘Do not be afraid.’ – that is one time for every day of the year! Rather than being an enemy, can I make fear my friend? A friend who adds rocket fuel to my courage? That companion of fear, insecurity and self-doubt can become your greatest friend.
Sir Lawrence Olivier was one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. He performed to standing ovations night after night. And yet every evening before going onto the stage, he would spend half an hour on his own. He would talk himself into a state of fear that would fuel his courage. He would remind himself: “This is not last night’s performance. This is not last night’s audience. This is not last night’s stage These are not last night’s critics. This could still all go horribly wrong.”
What was he doing?
He was using fear to build up the courage to give the best performance of his life.
3. Do I have the capacity?
Do I have the capacity within me to do, be or achieve what I say I want to do, be or achieve?
For example, with my relative small frame and physique and lack of training, there is no way, no matter how hard I try, for me to be an Olympic athlete.
I just do not have the capacity within me no matter how hard I try!
Or think about the poor cat in the picture. It is unlikely to be capable to run away fast enough from the dogs that surround it. But does it have the capacity to find an escape route?
And if I don’t have the capacity then is this really something I can become confident about? But if the capacity and hunger are there….
4. Can I become capable?
The next question to ask is if I do have the capacity can I become capable? In other words, do I have the persistence to keep going while still incompetent?
The persistence to get up and fall down.
To get up and fall down again.
To get up and fall down hundreds if not thousands of time.
To move forward one step at a time…..
Maybe 2 steps forward and one step back.
Or as Nietsche said, “What does not kill me only makes me stronger.”
4 simple questions with powerful consequences.
How well do these 4 questions resonate with you?