Confidence Boost

Who remembers learning to ride a bike?  I do, mainly because it was super hot outside and since our neighborhood was brand new there were no trees to provide any shade.   We would ride up and down the alley for hours on end, sometimes racing each other or sometimes stopping in a driveway to catch our breath.  Nothing too difficult about riding a bike.  And I was so proud of my bike - a nifty little red Schwinn with a white leather seat.  It seemed so grown up, yet looking back on it I’m sure it was barely taller than a tricycle.

Then came the day when Dad decided it was time for me to ride without the training wheels. Augh!  I remember the panicked feeling I had, waiting for Dad’s hand to let go of the bike.  There were dozens of tries and the same number of failures.  I would stop riding or semi-fall as soon as I felt Dad release his hand. I simply had zero confidence in my ability to ride without the luxury of training wheels or Dad’s hand to balance me.  Both of us grew frustrated – and I think Dad was more than a little out of breath trying to run alongside me down the alley.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, Dad quietly let go and before I knew it I was at the end of the alley alone, just me and my bike.  I was almost bursting with pride as Dad shouted, “See, I knew you could do it!”  My confidence soared.  At that point, I knew that could I master almost anything with wheels. Amazing what a bit of confidence can do.

Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes – it’s not just a kid-thing.  As adults it can come from the “good job” we hear at work from our boss; other times it’s an old friend who says “you look great”.  It can also be an internal feeling that you’re on the right track, you are valuable and your efforts are worthwhile. 

In this cut-throat world that is business, where every decision made can cost thousands or millions, even the most confident among us can tremble.   I’m a pretty confident person, yet there are times when my confidence goes into hiding, totally afraid of making a wrong move.  Maybe I’ve heard the word “no” too many times, or maybe I’m just afraid that I’ll be turned down. 

My confidence went into hiding big-time when I was laid-off.  It’s hard to stand tall without the luxury of a job or even a job title while networking.  And without confidence it’s hard to put yourself out there at networking events, much less do well in a job interview.  There’s no boss anymore to pat us on the back for a job well done.  When I decided to be a consultant, I realized the double whammy of having to stay positive and upbeat as I tried to land clients, while at the same time wearing a suit of armor to shield me from the hard blow of hearing “no”. 

My confidence has come back out of hiding, for the most part. As a writer I’ve learned that sharing my thoughts with the world demands confidence – or at least some acceptance that others may not like what I have to say.  I’m not going to lie – gaining confidence is rarely easy for anyone; it's one of those things that take practice. The more you try, the more interviews you get, the less fearful you become. And you also become more positive, immune to the “no’s”.

I know this all too well. In an attempt to promote myself as an author, I’ve had to “put on my big girl shoes” and boldly, confidently, talk to total strangers about my book.  To my knowledge, no one has seen me shaking in my stilettos.  Let’s hope all they can see is my smile and not hear my heart beating like a huge drum.

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