Perfection is the enemy of self-confidence. There is no more prominent a killer of people than their sense of having made an irreversible mistake. Businesses that fail to adapt, because they had once perfected a technique, will surely fail in the future. How do we prevent this? Part of it might be remembering that there is no perfect stick of gum, or perfect angle with which to affix that gum to a charming gum wall!
Stop defending yourself! Quit justifying your existence, your actions, or your life’s intentions to every person you observe. We’ve got it all twisted. Sure, it’s important to explain ourselves to our family and close friends. They’re invested in our future and our failures could drag them down financially or emotionally. Everyone else, though? Who cares! Why invest your energy in the stranger that might scoff at you? All that does is lead to feeling insecure!
While painting this inconsequential accent wall, I thought about how Trishna (left) and John (right) might paint in “The Story.” Trishna might lock her breaks, dip her roller with extension pole into a paint tray, paint one section, move, and repeat. John might then get the finer details along the corners. Since painting takes preparation, planning – and when working with others, teamwork, collaboration, and delegation of duties – how well would they handle any possible friction?
“There are two types of people. The people that see something weird and figure it out, like you, and the people that see something weird and ask you to figure it out for them.” The opening act haven’t (yet) figured out how to be good career performers, whereas Uriah Heep certainly did! Let’s explore vicariously through good and bad rock bands how we can exude confidence after figuring out the weird nuances of our careers.
She too arrived early for the most important interview of her career. Her mind raced during the overwhelming drive to the stately building. No meditation training helped ease the anxiety, which bled onto the receptionist’s desk. “H-H-Hi, I’m here for an interview with,” she checked her paperwork, “M-Marissa Desta and… Z-Zheng Harper.” “Yes. Can I see your ID, miss?” After blundering through innocent answers, she had a temporary badge, and a seat by the window.
I think we focus too much on what other people think about us. When I’ve felt awkward, it’s usually because I’m thinking too much about what people think of me while I’m doing something. It’s all in my head, too. No one ran up to me exclaiming that I shouldn’t photograph this sign. Most people wouldn’t even care. If they did, it’s only because I distracted their own focus. How can we overcome focus insecurity?
While there’s something to be said for playing life safely, when the opportunity strikes, jump up on life’s stage! Get outside your comfort zone! Even for just a minute. The experience will probably be uncomfortable, you might need to push through fatigue, or embarrass yourself. You might step in spilled beer, get bumped into harmlessly, or get your picture taken. You also might not get the best shot. That’s still better than no shot whatsoever!
In ten years, will I have this spider’s confidence? It stared right at me. To not be skittish around anyone I don’t fully know? To not feel embarrassed over the most minor, benign, and otherwise harmless social faux paus? The courage to talk to anyone? Compared to ten years ago, I do have more self-confidence, so I imagine in ten more years of practice, I’ll be closer. I have had glimpses of this spider’s confidence…
As soon as I realized my current goal, writing “The Story,” things fell into place. I stopped wasting time with things I didn’t care about. I reinvested in my health. Your goals don’t have to be lofty! Let’s revisit last week’s Dr. Mindbender, photographed below. His goal is just to play this Pac-Man arcade cabinet. While playing, he might notice people laughing at him. He doesn’t care. He’s focused on his goals!
Focus on yours!
Don’t run from your pain! Whether it’s a something physical like an injury or something mental like ennui, learn to embrace that pain. Pain will remind you of your motivations more than the seduction of any numbing pleasure. Pain will be with you always. Pleasure is fleeting and addicting. Pleasure will leave you in both your darkest hours and when everything seems wonderful, whereas when disciplined properly, pain will be motivation toward achieving your goals.