We all have that voice inside our head that says “you can do it, you've got this” and, in contrast we all also have the voice that says “no you can’t, you're screwed.” The journey of which one wins at any given moment is an on going discovery process.
When I was in my early 20’s I was a store manger for Starbucks Coffee and one day in particular I remember dancing this very tango between “yes I can and no, I can not.” It was early one weekday morning and the regional manager had plans of touring my store that day. I had been whirling around all morning making sure my store was in impeccable shape for the visit. He walked in and I remember like it was yesterday, my entire body flooded with heat, I could feel my heart beat in my temples. I have no idea what he asked me about, what we spoke about or how long he was there, but I do remember that feeling and what was going on in my mind as we were talking. I remember having the experience internally of doubt and belief at this same time, and which ever voice I gave more attention, grew. The more I believed in myself and told myself I had a reason to be there, I was part of the conversation, the calmer I felt. In contrast, the more I doubted, the louder the heart beat in my head become and the hotter the back of my neck felt.
I did not know it that day but looking back, it was that time period that I started to realize I had the ability to experience situations differently based on how I decided to feel about them. Don’t ask me why this particular instance sticks in my head, all of us have “those moments” that leave a lasting impressions, and that day was the one where I noticed my own experience of other people and me. It was that time period and many years to follow (and still) that I began to cultivate true confidence in who I am as a person and awareness of my value. It truly does not matter what your title is, how much money you make, if your picture is in a magazine, at the end of the day we are all human.
I love the way my friend Robert Dyer puts it, “you know Lindsey, we all put our pants on the same way, one leg at a time.” He had said that to me prior to a big meeting that I had myself pretty worked up over. It took me many years to cultivate the confidence to see myself as whole and capable in the presence of those with larger titles than myself. Looking back, I don’t think it was one single experiences that cultivated confidence instead a compounding of many many experiences that brought me to where I am today. Which is by no means a state of “arrival,” however I can say that today I see myself as fully capable to have a conversation with anyone, even the president or the united states without the feeling of “less than” being part of my internal dialog, which is a far cry from where I came from.
In creating this article, I wanted to share my personal experiences on the topic as it has completely overhauled the way I see myself and therefore the world. Here are a few points in summary that when I think back were compounding experiences resulting in my ability to cultivate confidence.
Practice talking to people you feel afraid of talking to.
As simple as this sounds, if you really evaluate your choices in people you talk to I would bet you air on the side of “safe” instead of risky, it is human nature to seek out comfort. The only way I have found to learn to tango with fear instead of bolt in the opposite direction is to face the fear square in the eyes and go for it. Do you follow an “important” personal on twitter that you would love to have a cup or coffee with? Ask them for a phone call! You know that quote we all “like” when it pops into our FB feed “do something each day that scares you,” this time, do it, scare yourself, I dare you.
Hang out with people doing and demonstrating what you want.
The saying, “you are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with," find 3-5 people you want to be like when you grow up and hang out with them. Something I have done that I find useful is if the person is not available but they distribute content (Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, Amy Schmittauer) listen to/watch and consume their content. I have Tim Ferriss in my ear more than once per week, and as a result, he influences me. Find your role models and soak up their goodness as often as you can.
Take exquisite care of yourself and prioritize this above all.
We are what we think, eat and do repeatedly. This is a basic equation and thought process AND the easiest to completely loose footing on and fall off track. The reality is this, if you do not take care of yourself, no one else will do this for you, it is your responsibility to love what you’ve got! We all see so many leaders burn out in their 40’s because they didn’t sleep, eat or exercise in their 30’s due to over working. I don’t know about you, but this whole gig is a marathon not a sprint, If I skimp on sleep, eat too much pizza and skip too many workouts today, it’s only a matter of time before I run out of steam and crash and burn. So even if it is inconvenient, create space for yourself everyday, and be vigilant about staying true to your routine. This will allow you to be available to everyone else. Self sacrifice at your own expense is not heroic, it is wasteful. If you do not care for yourself, your spouse, co worker, children and pets will get your leftovers instead of your best.
Cultivating confidence in yourself is a lifelong journey. Just when I think I have rounded one corner and feel great, a surprise is right around the next bend. The good news is that with practice dancing with fear, lots of help from other's and taking care of myself I will continue to create more confidence everyday. What’s the point you might ask of cultivating confidence? For me it is about being of maximum service to my purpose for being on this planet. We are all hear to fill our own specific and unique calling and having the confidences to say YES to life when the phone rings is what it is all about.
Do you struggle with confidence or want to chat on this topic? Send me a note and I would enjoy connecting with you on the topic.
Lindsey Rainwater, also known as Lindsey RainH2O, is a sought-after business consultant, leadership coach, writer and presenter to the fitness and wellness industry. For more information about Rainwater, follow her on Twitter@LindseyRainH2O