When someone compliments you, what do you say? If you’re socially adept, you would humbly say ‘thank you’. But inside, what are you saying?
I have recently made a wonderful new connection on LinkedIn where we decided to get to know each other a little better verbally. After sharing my journey to becoming a coach and where I hope the adventure will continue on, the new connection reflected on my discourse. To paraphrase what she said, I can see that you’re aware of your steps and have clarity of what you want to achieve on your coaching endeavour, in the present moment as well as your expectations for the long term. This is a powerful position to be in, to have such confidence.
And I immediately replied, “Confidence? No way, I’m totally not confident.” She stared back at me surprised. Then calmly asked me this thought-provoking question, Well, it is what I see and hear as you were telling me your story. Let me leave you with this - what do you benefit or gain from saying “I’m not confident”?
Having taken the time to ruminate, this piece is to share with you my answer to that question and is a special dedication to my new friend with much gratitude.
When I tell myself “I’m not confident”, I think that I’m not good enough. When I think that I’m not good enough, I feel like I don’t have much to offer. When I feel like I don’t have much to offer, I either don’t do what I ought to do or do what I can without enthusiasm.
When I tell others that “I’m not confident”, especially after expressing what seems to be an inspiring story, I cause confusion. In the narrative above, I mentioned that my new friend stared back at me surprised, she could have actually been confused by the contradiction of my words just split seconds apart.
Another scenario that came up in my reflection was I could inject doubt and push people away. For example when speaking to a potential client, assuming the person was impressed upon what I’ve said and was considering hiring me as his coach but I ended with a statement to the effect of “I’m not confident”. Surely he would now think twice about partnering with me.
As I pondered further on this, I discovered that I did what I did because I thought I might have come across as boastful. Especially when I’m talking about a topic that I’m passionate about like coaching, I can be rather excitable. Hence, to take the hullabaloo down a notch, I thought that by saying something like “I’m not confident” would convey humility.
However I’ve now realised that in doing so, it actually makes me sound like a hypocrite because I’m not practicing what I’m preaching. I exude confidence in my words but when push comes to shove by way of someone else’s affirmation in the form of an observation or a compliment, I reel the confidence all the way back in, even plugging it out of sight.
From this musing, I’ve also come to appreciate the differences between being proud and arrogant. I can and should be proud of my achievements and of the goals that I’m working on to accomplish. In doing so, not only am I encouraged to continue advancing in my journey but become an inspiration that motivates others to keep progressing in theirs.
I found truth and a great reminder in this old Navajo tribe saying, “watch your thoughts for they create your world”. You own your story. So, mind what you tell yourself on the inside as it will manifest on the outside.
With this I say, thank you Patricia for recognising my confidence and for challenging me to take ownership of my confidence with your profound question.
What is the story you tell yourself? Drop me a comment below.
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