I met someone recently who told me my biggest "problem" was my lack of confidence. She compared me to her boss who also confided a lack of clarity or confidence in his decisions or direction from time to time. Her boss is the leader of a major company. She's on staff.
I looked at her and asked, "so you think someone should fake constant confidence to keep up appearances rather than be vulnerably honest about their thought processes?"
She said yes. I disagreed. To be honest, I think it's comparing apples and oranges once you're actually in the driver's seat of your life instead of backseat driving. ;)
I get the merit of portraying confidence to garner trust. But confidence isn't a constant. It comes and goes, just like anything in life. To pretend it's there 100% of the time would be inauthentic and dishonest. No one has it all together. No one knows what they're doing from day to day. NO ONE. In fact, the more one tries to put that image out there, the less I trust them because I know they are probably hiding something. If they can't trust themselves through confusion and changes and share that with other people, can I trust them with my process? Not likely.
Do you feel the same way? As social media breaks down preconceived notions about people and personal brands are breaking apart left and right, are you more able to trust someone who shares from the heart or someone who never lets on that anything is happening behind the curtain? Do you still believe that confidence is a constant that other people have that you can't achieve or don't possess? Don't believe it. Believe that confidence isn't constant and it comes and goes.
What made us fall in love with the Wizard of OZ? Was it when he was blustering about being all omniscient and powerful? No. It was the moment Toto blew his cover and we saw the real man behind the curtain. We could relate to his fear. His loneliness. His confusion. In fact, that's what we loved about all the characters in that movie and others like it. That's what we love and trust and respect and admire about anyone.
However, if you've never really risked something and put yourself on the line or you're someone who fears what others think of you, then authenticity and vulnerability is a threat. And you would perceive anyone who shares that openly as the opposite of what is considered powerful, courageous and strong.
Leading experts like Brene Brown and Daniel Goleman, two folks I follow, say that vulnerable honesty is the true mark of strength and resilience. It's the true mark of leadership. It may take a while to overcome these old paradigms of gender role performance that keep women and men and everyone in between prisoner but better days are coming.
For now, just know that if your confidence in yourself falters from time to time, you're doing ok. You're right on track for this thing called life that changes from minute to minute. Things come in and out of our lives despite our preferences. We make decisions and sometimes best-laid plans just don't work out as we hoped.
All we can do is pivot and try again. And to do that requires a certain amount of confidence, so summon it however you can. But don't try to hold it all together all the time and PLEASE DON'T THINK you have to convince other people that you're perfect.
Confidence comes and goes so grab it when you find it, cherish the moment and take action.
And definitely don't listen to people who have opinions about "your problems" as they see them. They are most likely projections of their own problems that they have yet to discover for themselves.