I recently participated in a revealing self-development exercise that helped me clarify my purpose.
I knew I was headed in the right direction, but still felt I lacked the clarity I needed to really get focused. During the exercise, I identified three words or concepts that were most important to me…and one of those words was “confidence”. That made perfect sense because I’ve seen the impact that confidence (and a lack of confidence) has made in thousands of lives, including my own.
As the exercise progressed and we were asked to explore each of our three words in more detail, I found it more and more difficult to get a handle on why “confidence” was so important. Although the concept is important, it didn’t quite fit...so matter how hard I tried (it was like forcing a size 6 foot into a size 5 shoe). After a couple of days of wrestling with it, I came to a new conclusion. My underlying message isn’t really about confidence…it’s about courage.
Let me say this, I did not go to the dictionary to look up the definitions. To be honest, I don’t care what the “official” definitions are for either word. What matters most to me s what each of the words mean to me and the energy that they represent. I don’t want to discuss or debate semantics…so you are free to disagree or dismiss my definitions as you see fit. However, I hope you’ll hear the message.
In my mind, the distinction between confidence and courage lies in the difference between thinking and taking action. For me, confidence is knowing (or at least thinking) that you are capable of something and courage is acting upon that knowledge or ability. I can be confident and accomplish nothing. I don’t need confidence to be courageous. I can take action and try new things whether I have any confidence or not. Granted, I risk failing....but even in my failure I succeed, because I tried and I learned from that experience.
That trial and error makes me courageous and puts me that much closer to success (however, you want to define that for yourself). Whether it’s making sales calls, submitting proposals, learning to play golf, baking a cake from scratch, hiring a coach, or changing a tire…it’s important that we learn from each experience so we can make adjustments (improve our skills, change our tactics, revise our approach) before the next attempt. As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said: “We do our best that we know how at the moment, and if it doesn’t turn out, we modify it.” And if you don't find much comfort in that, how about football coach Mike Ditka’s quote: “Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal.”
In a perfect world, we would all be confident and courageous at the same time. In fact, chances are the more courageous we become, the more successes we’ll have and the more confidence we’ll gain. We’ll never “know” what we can do, until we’ve tried it and experienced that glow of satisfaction at a job well done, a fear overcome, an achievement earned. Consider the possibilities and how your life could change if you had the courage to:
- Love and accept yourself as you are right now, even as you try to improve
- Express your true wants and desires rather than going along with everyone else’s
- Demand respect and let go of destructive relationships
- Get out of your comfort zone and try something new
- Address issues before they get out of hand or fester
- Forgive yourself for past mistakes or misjudgments
- Trust your intuition and instincts
- Try again…even if you weren’t successful last time
- Take the first step …no matter how small
- Believe in the possibilities
What courageous step will you take to reach your desired goal? Perhaps it’s one small step each day…or once a week. Regardless of how small you start…start today. You have the power to create your life. Take courageous action, build your confidence, and create the reality you want and deserve. Take your life to the next level.
Find time to expand your personal and professional potential. Don't sit on the sidelines.
Life is not a dress rehearsal!