Hi Meaningful Leader,
At a recent keynote/interview I gave, one of the attendees approached me afterwards and thanked me for “all the gold she just received”. She continued to explain that a great deal of the ideas and concepts I’d just shared, made sense to her and had given her perspective. I thanked her and as she she hugged me, she told me how much she admires my confidence.
But that wasn’t always me…confident I mean.
I grew up an only child and I was literally the misleading, yet stereotypical image of an introvert; quiet, shy and a book worm. Side note: Not only that reading has always been my thing, but also keeping a book handy has saved me from many awkward conversations….small talk is not my cup of tea, but I degrees!
For me in particular, staying away is not an option, I lead teams and that’s where my passion lies. And before we continue, there’s a chasmal difference between being shy or introverted and not being a people person. A leader must always be a people person, because well, you’ll be leading people.
But how is it that I went from hiding (literally) behind my mother’s skirt during a weekend visit to one of her best friend’s house to standing on a stage to address groups of people I normally don’t know beforehand, without passing out.
Well, through building self-confidence…
Easier said than done, though…
Self confidence is something we all, to one degree or another, struggle with.
For me the process required a lot of introspection, mixed with copious amounts of courage. From there I have developed 5 specific mindset approaches that have become my go-to tools to keep me sharp and ready:
1.- I keep the promises I make to myself: I’m both a dreamer and a doer. I’m highly competitive and by nature I don’t shy away from challenging myself to achieve big, scary goals. Regardless of how I feel and what my level of motivation might be, I always show up and create motivation by doing. Sheer discipline. Based on my own experience I know for a fact that the moment I start making excuses for not doing what I had committed to do, my self confidence goes to crap and I literally feel defeated.
2.- I invest in myself: I’ll be an eternal student until the day I die! I’m constantly learning new things and developing my skills. I read, I listen to podcasts, I take courses, I participate in masterminds, all in an effort to keep my edge and to become a better version of myself every single day. For many years I believed the lie that I was not a talented artist. When I was little, a kid in school made fun of a drawing I’d made and I allowed him and his mean remark to classify me in the “I suck a drawing” box. True, I normally draw people as stick figures, but I love calligraphy. So a few years ago, I enrolled myself in a calligraphy class and I quickly became obsessed with what I was able to create. Despite popular belief, calligraphy is a form of drawing not writing. You draw words to form beautifully aesthetic phases, but it’s drawing nonetheless. So yes, I can draw. This is called having a growth mindset., which means my skills and intelligence are not set in stone, they’re constantly evolving and I can continue to expand my brain’s hard-drive through new knowledge every single day.
3.- I transform my fear into excitement: The worst advice someone can give you right before you step foot on a stage to deliver a keynote speech is “relax, breathe”. Honestly people, IT’S PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE”.
Refer to the graph below: The thing about fear is that it is a very strong emotion, very high frequency, so it cannot be counteracted by an emotion with a lower level frequency like calmness or feeling of relaxation. Fear will overpower relaxation any day of the week! However, and this is where emotional regulation is key, if we counter fear with a similarly powerful emotion like excitement, we turn our approach toward the big step we’re about to embark with grace, hope and excitement for the amazing outcome we’re about to achieve. Even if we suck at it, we gave it our all!
4.- I understand that failing is part of succeeding: Make your peace with it, you cannot have one without the other. Failure is part of the success cycle
Success cycle: we enter -> we fail -> we tweak -> we re-enter -> we succeed!
Being afraid is natural, but growth requires courage. Courage to try something new, courage to confront ridicule, courage to be vulnerable, and yes, courage to suck at something new. If you were to ask the PBBA Cohort 30 of the FIU Business School – class of 2013, if I would ever voluntarily stand on a stage with a microphone and address a group of humans, they’ll laugh at you. I was forced in school to deliver a few presentations and give speeches (to my classmates) and my biggest fear, shit you not, was that I was going to forget how to speak english in the middle of it, even for a bilingual person like me, how illogical is that?! But I avoided it like the plague. The thought alone would paralyze me!
Yet here I am today, making 2013 Maria proud of the person she has become…
And this is the perfect transition to the reason why I speak and write and make videos…
5.- I get out of my own way: For real, who the heck am I to keep my gifts to myself? I’m not implying I’m gifted, we all are. We all have unique skills and experiences that make our contribution, perspective and views, one of a kind. So the way I see it, allowing fear to keep me from doing what I know I can serve others with, is just plain selfish and cowardly.
Jen Gottlieb, Top 50 Keynote Speaker worldwide, once said something that profoundly resonates with me. She was explaining that whenever she feels nervous about putting herself out there, she remembers the acronym H.O.P.E. which stands for help one person everyday
How cool is this?
In my book, I wrote about fear of failure at length and one example I offered was to keep a “confidence bank account”.
The Confidence Bank Account Strategy: When we take an action, and the outcome is not what we expected, we have two choices:
1.- We can take it as a mistake and lose sleep over it, while beating ourselves up because we should’ve known better
2.- We take it as a learning opportunity on how not to approach that situation in the future
In scenario one, the feeling of defeat serves as a withdrawal from our confidence bank account.
In scenario two, through the experience gained, we add a deposit into our confidence bank account.
Let’s use Thomas Edison and one of his many invention, the electric light bulb as an example. Edison was not only a visionary, he is considered to be one of the most successful innovators in American history. Yet, throughout the process of, he failed over and over again, until he succeeded. Hence his famous quote “I haven’t failed. I have found 10,000 way that won’t work”.
Remember, we are not quitters!
Challenges will arise and mistakes will be made; thus, it is solely up to us to go on the red or to enrich our self-confidence account balance.
One caveat though, there’s a huge difference between self-confidence and arrogance, so always keep yourself in check for this. Arrogance is a dangerous poison.
I hope this article inspires you to dare to dream, but most importantly to dare to do. Whether you know it yet or not, there’s greatness within you and the world needs your unique contribution. Be courageous!
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Thanks for reading and God bless,
Always rooting for you!