“What these characters suffered from in the film was precisely what many of us periodically suffer from in our day-to-day existence as entrepreneurs and as the CEO’s of our own lives – a crisis of confidence.”
I’m writing this after having recently seen the new M. Night Shyamalan film, Glass. It’s a film about three men with extraordinary physical and mental abilities. And, eventhough, I wouldn’t mind getting into a discussion about the trilogy that it’s a part of, I’ll save that for another forum.
I mention this film because the underlying theme that dominated throughout seemed to provide the perfect backdrop for what I wanted to blog about this week, and that was the idea of “believing in one’s self and in one’s abilities so much that no one could ever gain the power to take that self-belief away”. It was a story about the power of gaining, having and maintaining self-confidence, thereby, ultimately being who they were born to be.
Throughout this film, each of the three main characters was constantly bombarded with accusations from the psychologist assigned to them (a “hater”) about how they harbored delusions of grandeur and that they really didn’t have the extraordinary gifts, talents and abilities that they believed that they had, despite the fact that they were using their extraordinary abilities everyday.
The psychologist tried to break their spirits in order to control their bodies and behaviors, in order to get them to conform, and (spoiler alert!) she came very close to succeeding. What happens further at the end of the film is, again, a matter for a different forum, but the men reaffirmed for themselves who they really were and behaved in accordance with their self-beliefs. Other people were later able to learn from their examples.
What these characters suffered from for much of the film was precisely what many of us periodically suffer from in our day-to-day existence as entrepreneurs and as the CEO’s of our own lives – a crisis of confidence. And, for as many who suffer from this crisis periodically, there are many more who suffer from it chronically.
Confidence is a Mindset
What is confidence? In its most basic form, confidence is a mindset. It is a set of beliefs that you have about yourself that are usually lodged deep within your subconscious. Depending on the circumstances, a person can either feel full of confidence or feel completely lacking in it.
The difference between these two extremes – the kryptonite to this superpower – is the likelihood of someone being able to convince you to invest more energy in your self-doubt than in your self-belief.
A big contributor to this likelihood is if you give your power over to others. In the film, the men had to give their power over to an official authority – the psychologist. Her strategy for inducing self-doubt was to leverage her authority. In our universe, however, the strategy that is most often used is (drumroll…) comparison. The kicker is, it’s a strategy that we mostly use against ourselves! No officials needed.
The Act of Self-Comparison Robs Us of Our Confidence
It’s no secret that social media has been identified as the root of many a crisis of confidence. Scrolling through feeds of seemingly perfect vacations, days in the park, family get-togethers; not to mention the stories of “overnight success” are enough to make you want to curl up under the covers in bed and cry. “Why not me?!”, we wail. “What am I doing wrong?! – Aaaaaah!”
It’s easy to let these images go for the jugular of our sense of self-worth. There’s a lot of layers of psychology to get through in order to realize that these snapshots represent mere moments in each person’s life and are likely not a realistic representation of how that person normally lives. Heck, some of those images are even staged! (another spoiler!)
Yet, self-comparison is a part of human nature. Athletics is a testament to that fact – dating back to the time of ancient civilizations. Self-comparison is even found in the animal kingdom, especially during mating season. But, as humans, we can control this urge to self-judge and self-disqualify.
The key to overcoming any lack of confidence is in focusing on leveraging your uniqueness.
That’s right, the solution to the problem of succumbing to self-comparison and the ensuing crisis of confidence is the regular practice of maintaining a focus on your unique qualities, characteristics, abilities and strengths and deciding to use them to your greatest advantage – creating a shift in your mindset. This is the “super” in the superpower.
“Who Do I Think I Am?” – A Coaching Challenge
In order to harness this superpower, here’s an easy exercise.
Ask yourself the question, “Who do I think I am?”. In other words, “Who do I think that I am that I can start a business, expect to be successful, charge certain prices, be selective about who I work with, etc. ?”. Take a few minutes to think about the answer to this question and then answer it honestly. And, by honestly, I mean, not what you think others would say about you, or have said about you, or what you would say if no one else were around to hear vs. if they were around to hear. Answer with the reason that you, personally, have for embarking on your venture – why did you choose to start your own business?
“Who do I think I am?” is a self-empowering twist on the negative version often posed by “haters”, namely, “Who do you think you are?”. The same negative question that we, ironically, ask ourselves when faced with a situation in which we have to stand tall (and alone), and “deliver the goods”.
It’s a negative question that is intended to break our spirits, to keep us at a mediocre level of performance. Because, you see, when your “haters” see you succeeding, reaching and climbing higher, they are secretly comparing themselves to you! And they can’t handle being shown up. When you shrink, they expand. I want you to expand. (Let’s not worry about whether others are shrinking, that’s not our goal, and we’re too busy for that.) Our goal is to live with confidence. Our goal is to live with success.
Asking yourself, “Who do I think I am?” and answering honestly with a list of your strengths and abilities reaffirms for yourself what qualifies you to be the one to “deliver the goods” and reap the rewards. It helps you to remind yourself why you stepped up to the plate in the first place.
For example, part of my response to the question of, “Who do I think I am?”, with regards to my professional life, is, “I am an innovator”, “I am a seasoned professional”, “I am a winner!” – that’s who I think I am, and, what’s more, that IS who I am!
When you are striving for better, it’s easy to feel weak in the knees. The challenge is in not letting that nervousness dictate how far you go in this life. It’s one thing to learn from others’ examples, but be aware of when you might be crossing over that line and comparing yourself to the stories and storylines of others – thinking that they are somehow better than you. You are not in competition with them.
Use your list of answers to the question, “Who do I think I am?” as affirmations when you need to build your confidence. Put these affirmations to work for you. Lean on them.
Building and maintaining self-confidence takes will, effort and focus, and once you have this superpower mastered and under your control, you’ll be crushing your goals in no time!
To get the ball rolling on starting this list for yourself, add an answer to the question of, “Who do I think I am?” in the comments section below. Let the world know who you think you are!
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