When asked to think what confidence means, most people have a feel for it but find it quite difficult to tie down precisely. After all, confidence is not some miracle pill or wonder food you can buy in a shop.
Confidence is one of those odd things in life that turn out to be surprisingly difficult to tie down (beauty and quality belong to this strange group too). You may think you know what it is, and you may feel certain that you can recognize it when you see it, but you may struggle to define exactly what ‘it’ is. Confidence is an everyday experience, something you have quite often, except on those all important occasions when it seems to leave you and you could really use more of it –whatever ‘it’ is.
A good dictionary definition provides at least three simple definitions for confidence.
_ Self-assuredness: This relates to your confidence in your ability to perform to a certain standard.
_ Belief in the ability of other people: This definition focuses on how you expect others to behave in a trustworthy or competent way.
_ keeping certain information secret or restricted to a few people: This definition concerns the idea of keeping a confidence.
One may think, better definition exists, but provided that it has not altered the true meaning of confidence, you are still on track.
At its heart, confidence is the ability to take appropriate and effective action in any situation, however challenging it appears to you or even others.
WHAT CONFIDENCE REALLY IS IN PRACTISE
Now, how does confidence show up in daily life? Well, have you ever started something – perhaps an exercise session or presentation at work – even though you didn’t feel like doing it at that moment, only to find that once you got going, you started to feel okay about it and even glad you tackled it? This kind of shift in how you experience a situation gives you a taste of what confidence is in practice. It is your ability to reach beyond how you are feeling in the moment in order to take action that leads to the outcome you want.
Makinde David is an accountant. He turned management consultant who has travelled the world on international assignments for large corporations. Now running his own partnership, he leads complex projects and presents a calm, rational, and focused image in business meetings. When deadlines are pressing and tempers rise in project teams, he is the one who patiently exudes confidence that delivery can and will happen on time.
How does he do this under pressure? ‘I experience the situation as a series of hoops that I just need to get through – like a tunnel, he says.
Sometimes there will just be two or three. At other times as many as twenty in a row. I can feel as anxious inside about what needs to be done as the next person, but I experience it as a sequence to go through patiently one by one, and it gets easier as I see the light beckoning at the end.’
Okay. You might feel this example is a bit higher, so I want to use myself as an example. I attended the CreativityTurf Conference 2013 (CTC Lagos). I went as a novice, because I wanted to learn something new. But most times I find it difficult to approach people who I don’t know, and these are people I really respect. After the conference, which was a huge success, I decided to walk up to the man behind the conference. And this is one of the hardest thing to do, because I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me. I told myself at that spot where I was sitting, ‘it’s your choice to walk up to him’. I thought of it like, ‘what if there was no tomorrow to see him? ‘. I finally met him and introduced myself. I must say, it wasn’t easy at first, but he responded. And the funny truth about this ‘little adventure of mine’ is that, if I had not approached him, I wouldn’t have joined CreativityTurf online.
HOW IT FEELS???
There is a particular feeling that comes with confidence. This feeling only comes when you have successfully accomplished your task or when you have seen that you have scaled through that barrier. It’s about taking the first step. For every decision, there is always a step. Like someone once said,
At a point of decision making, it’s like raising your leg to take a step, making the right decision is like taking a step forward, and making the wrong decision is, instead of forward, it goes backward’. And this is where confidence comes in. you cannot know or understand that feeling except you take the first step.
Don’t worry about whether you feel comfortable performing a challenging activity or are fully relaxed about the action you are taking. Confident people are okay with the feeling of not knowing all the answers. Phew, what a relief! Confidence is just the feeling that it’ll be okay.
The sense of feeling confident inside comes with increased practice and familiarity with what you do. You can also create it from your life experiences and bring it out when you need it. This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever feel scared. You will, but the good news is that you’ll be able to live with the fear.
Here are some ways that you can recognize confidence in yourself:
_ You feel poised and balanced.
_ You are breathing easily.
_ You are moving towards a goal or action with a sense of purpose.
_ You are being proactive rather than defensive.
_ You know that you’ll be able to deal with whatever life throws at you, even if you can’t control it.
_ You can laugh at yourself.
_ You know everything will be alright in the end, however long it takes.
You might be the shy type who doesn’t talk in public, or who feels his/her dress combination is off. If you take a bold step not minding your environment, you might feel a bit uncomfortable for a while, but if you continue without wavering, people will overlook. The funny thing is, your lack of confidence or your shyness, gives people watching you the strength to continue looking or staring. There is something I put at the back of my mind at the point of a decision to do something that requires confidence. And it’s simple; we are all humans. That’s the simple truth. The person you want to approach is human just like you. The people watching too are humans. They can’t harm you. Just take the step, be confident!
______________________________________________________________________________________ THOMAS: I believe imagination is stronger than knowledge, dreams are more powerful than facts and perfection may seem impossible, but I aim for perfection, because dreams are seedlings of reality.