“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lie within us.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
The most gratifying part of growing up and into our selves is the gift of trusting oneself. It is perhaps the most challenging of all personal development tasks, and there are many people who get stuck at various levels of adolescent insecurity for life. Having come to know this place of self confidence late in life, I am now watching my young adolescents, like fledglings on the edge of a nest attempt this. As I do, I wonder what is this process and how do we facilitate it where we finally find the courage to accept our selves, blemishes and all.
This ability to accept ourselves translates into personal courage, which expands your life large enough to accommodate our hopes and dreams. It lets you take risks and picks you up when you fall. Many a great talent and all the contributions they could have offered has been lost through time due to timidity and lacking confidence. So many people are so afraid they don’t even make the first attempt. How we think about ourselves as we go through the daily business of life and approach or avoid the risks that confront us is the blueprint of our destiny. Our capacity for believing in ourselves determines our fate.
In fact, developing the capacity for confidence is the only real preparation we can bring to life. All the rest is circumstantial and beyond our control. The only mastery that matters in life is how we think about ourselves and trust ourselves. As Dr. Seuss said, “You know what you know” is not a rigid, unquestioning knowing. Rather it is the confident and curious knowing that lets you move forward and take you best guess.
I have taken a long and circuitous route to this confident knowing in my business. Suddenly though, and a bit unexpectedly I find myself looking out from a mountain top that I didn’t know I was climbing. I didn’t recognize the steep climb as anything more than mastering myself and it came from taking back the power that was too easy to give away. Realizing that no one else knew more than I did about how to make my dreams work, this was the climb that landed me in my own heart.
It is easy to give away our power to someone else; someone who seems more qualified and will happily take over for you. It is a thinking error borne of lacking confidence. The surprise at the top of the mountain is that the view is spectacular and actually the way forward is clearer than I could have hoped or imagined.
I think back to my recent visit to the Chicago Art Museum and how the impressionist painters allowed their vision to render the world in new color schemes that not only captured the shapes and shadows in front of them, but defined for all of us the emotional landscape that is within us. This is how self confidence transforms us. It allows you to trust how you render the world and just because you believe it so deeply, so does everyone else.