By embracing your weaknesses do I mean roll over and give up? Of course not. But I want to be real. All of us lack confidence, experience self-doubt, get things wrong and want to climb under that rock and hide at times. But it is up to you how you let those times define you.
The richness is in embracing your weakness, failure, insecurity, doubts, and fears. You see, much more than we may realise, is that confidence is not an absolute. You aren’t given a measure at birth and that is it. Confidence levels shift, are dynamic and, more importantly, are related to the circumstances of what is going on around you, just as much as what is happening internally to you. You can be brilliantly confident in front of your team, and fall into a dithering mess of doubt in front of another group. I have witnessed just that.
Confidence to Jelly
The woman leader of a team I was a member of years ago, was supremely confident directing, leading, even chastising, disciplining, and taking whatever action she felt was right. No questions. No doubt. No lack of confidence. This stood in such marked contrast though when she was called on to present to her supervisor. At those times, she was like a deer caught in the headlights, full of uncertainty and doubt. It was astonishing at first, because we tend to think that a confident person is confident in and with everything. Usually this is not the case. This leader would called on us, her team to review, make suggestions, give feedback on her views, listen to her rehearsals and even work on her presentations. She was not able to do it on her own. Here was a supremely confident leader but in certain circumstances she turned to jelly.
But that is ok? This leader was well aware of this aspect and took great steps to address and overcome her lack of confidence. Perhaps you have witnessed it yourself. Or better still, perhaps you are aware of those situations which diminish your confidence.
What is NOT helpful
During these situations, it is not really helpful, to say, ‘suck it up and just do it’. I personally hate the expression, ‘fake it till you make it’. Really what on earth is that about? I am all about being real, and different strategies will work for some and not for others. So if ‘fake it till you make it’ works for you, fantastic. I have a different take on it. I would love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to agree or disagree in the comment box below
Instead, for me, and perhaps others, it is about having the COURAGE, and it only needs a little, to face your weaknesses. Name them, know them, but don’t hide them or run from them. Avoidance is simply not helpful and actually steals the opportunity from you to build your confidence.
You have a goal to achieve. You want it very much. But a time comes and your confidence goes down the drain and you are annoyed with yourself for being in that situation and wondering how on earth you will ever be able to achieve that goal. Perhaps you believe that you are not a good writer, or able to finish a project or have less experience than others or aren’t as qualified as the others and so on.
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Now you have a choice. You can give up and let your weakness become stronger to the point of being impenetrable in your mind. Or, you can break down that weakness from a big rock to stones to pebbles to sand. When you have it at sand, you simply blow it away with your past, and take on the confidence of your new capabilities. If this self-doubt threaten to rise again, you only have to tap into your past successes.
Change your reality
Big Rock – Your Goal
Let’s say your big rock is having to give a public presentation to a group of 200 people. You are turning weak at the knees thinking about it. You remember last time you gave a presentation everyone looked bored, there were no questions and you couldn’t get out of the room quick enough. You can’t get out of doing this presentation now. Only you can do it. (I know you don’t think so right now, but that is a good thing).
Stones – The Challenges
Now start breaking this down. The topic you are to give is on an area of your expertise. Great start. That is why you have been asked to do it.
Last time you were giving a presentation that was on a topic outside your interest and experience. Yuk. You had to fill in at the last minute, so there wasn’t much preparation time. Yuk. You were dreading the thought of being asked questions last time because you didn’t want to look stupid. YUK! A group of 200 people is a big group for you and that is frightening. And you have noticed that your talk is on just after the lunch break, not a good time from your experience in attending conferences, as it is difficult to stay awake. And again, yuk. You believe that you are not good at presentations because of the last one. So what can you do to change each of these stones from the negatives that they are at the moment to positive ones that you can deal with?
Pebbles – The Action
It is time to break down those stones into ‘do-able’ pebbles. This is where you build strategies, starting with facing your weakness. Yes, you stuffed up the previous presentation, what can you learn from that? Great question.
Remember you muttered under your breath as you left the presentation room that you would never fill in at the last minute for someone who is absent? Great lesson. So, saying ‘no’ is an option should that happen again. Great boundary.
This time only you can give this presentation because it is where you are the expert, so the content will be comfortably familiar. Fantastic. You won’t look or feel stupid, as you know this area inside out. Terrific, so you are seeing some positives.
The size of the audience is daunting you and you are frightened of being a poor speaker. Understandable, now use it to motivate you to do something about it.
The action you take is to go and listen to a colleague that has a great reputation for speaking. Smart thinking, even smarter action. You also make an appointment to talk with her, about what advice she would give. And you follow up on that advice – more actions, like rehearsal, being yourself, letting your excitement and passion show through, and making it conversational. Fantastic.
Success does not come through inaction. You are on the road to success. You can feel it now.
The Sand – Your renewed confidence
You are feeling nervous, yes, but you now feel confident that you can do a good job at presenting this. Great, you have taking action from the lessons of the past.
You are looking forward to connecting with your audience. You know what you are speaking about makes a difference and you are excited to share that with others. Fantastic. Your passion and excitement will naturally resonant with your audience. You have taken on the action to put the pragmatics of a good presentation into place, even including the use of humour to keep the audience awake after lunch. Fantastic! Now go for it. Success is on the other side of that presentation, waiting for you to celebrate.
What you have achieved
By embracing your weakness you took another look at the situation that caused you such a painful experience in the first instance. There were some aspects that were beyond your control, and others that were in your control. Then you took the latter and broke that down into actions that you could put into place to ensure you gave a successful presentation. Just by taking these actions you began to build your confidence and belief that, not only could you do this, but that you were even looking forward to it.
Congratulations! Confidence can be built one pebble at a time. Weaknesses can be ground into sand and a thing of the past. It is in your hands.
I am sure you have smashed a big rock to pieces. I would love to hear about it, so please share in the comment box below.