You don’t need confidence to go after your goals – you need courage.
I often hear people say “I want to work on my confidence” or “I want to be more confident in my leadership at work.” Heck, I use to say those things. Confidence was a goal of mine. I wanted to work on my confidence so I could be a better public speaker. I wanted to be more confident in my acting so I could feel better in the audition room.
I came to relate to confidence as the thing I needed in order to feel better about taking uncomfortable actions – actions that would one day bring me closer to living my dream life.
My habit was to look at the successful people around me and perceive them as being really confident in themselves and their work. I attributed their success to their level of confidence and then I would sit there wishing to be as confident as them.
The truth of the matter is that a lot of people who live out these wildly successful careers and even hold a global stage aren’t necessarily as confident as you might think. One thing almost all of them are is incredibly courageous.
The dictionary defines confidence as a “feeling” or “belief” – the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust; or a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
As an ontological coach, quite often what I witness with people (myself included) is a trap we set for ourselves in our pursuit of our goals. We want to feel better about something (have confidence in it or ourselves) before we do it.
For me that would look like waiting to publish my writing until I felt more confident in my writing abilities. But I am very aware now that if I’m waiting for that day to arrive, I could be waiting my whole life.
Sometimes confidence doesn’t come. It’s not always reliable to show up, no matter how many times you’ve put yourself out there before. Confidence is something you earn over time. Practicing courage is how you put yourself in the situations that will enable you to develop more confidence.
Have you ever tried to feel or act confident when you really weren’t? It can put a lot of pressure on you, leaving you feeling worse in the end or feeling like a fraud. False confidence can also serve as a mask we wear to protect ourselves and our insecurities.
Now I’m not saying that having true confidence is a bad thing, in fact we are all born 100% confident but then life happens and it diminishes our confidence over time (the subject of an entirely different post).
What I would like to do is re-work our current definition of confidence from being a belief or feeling to being:
CONFIDENCE = GIVING LESS FUCKS
When we define confidence as a belief or a certain way we need to feel, we often put pressure on ourselves to feel this certain way which only adds pressure to the situation. It’s a vicious cycle that can have you feeling overwhelmed. If we just gave less fucks and practiced courage, a lot of the pressure we put on ourselves would be alleviated.
Ask yourself: by being courageous and giving less fucks what could you do in this moment that would have you moving toward your goals? To living your dream life?
Don’t wait for confidence to show up before you truly start living.
If being more confident is a goal of yours, try replacing it with being more courageous and see where that leads you. Courage has you act in the face of all the uncomfortable feelings, with or without confidence needing to be present.
In what areas of your life could you start practicing courage right now?
If you’re anything like me, someone who keeps raising the bar for themselves, know that both your courage and confidence will always be tested. If you continue to stretch and expand your boundaries you’ll never really “arrive” at a comfortable place. It’s all up to how you choose to live your life.
So if you’ve got unfulfilled goals and you’ve been waiting for confidence to pursue them, stop waiting. Be courageous and stretch your limits. Before you know it that courage will turn into confidence and you’ll be one step closer to living your dream life.