Having a healthy confidence in yourself is a just a beautiful thing. A person who is quietly, calmly self-confident is someone towards whom the rest of us gravitate. There are people in this world who achieve that naturally and innately. I do believe, however, that they are almost as rare as the folks who can eat whatever the heck they want and not gain weight.
Self-confidence is a delicate balance. Too much and the person is seen as braggadocios, a pompous blowhard with a puffed-up ego. Too little and the person is perceived as weak and ineffective. I guess it’s some Darwinian impulse hardwired into us to think less of the person who thinks less of his- or herself.
I’m afraid I can’t offer a lot of insight on how to manage the blowhard other than avoidance—and voting. But low self-confidence? I’ve got a few ideas about that. They pretty much stem from my geeky love of statistics. Most math makes me blanch, but I do love my data! So, hang in there with me for a minute—I think it will be worth it!
The statistical calculation that can help find the right “confidence balance” is a correlation, symbolized by the letter “r.” The coefficient of “r” is in a range between -1.0 and 1.0. If something is strongly and positively correlated with something else—such as height and weight—then the “r” value is close to 1. If something is strongly and negatively correlated with something else, the “r” value is close to -1. An example of this is height above sea level and temperature; as the height above sea level increases, the temperature decreases. In the middle is 0.0, meaning that there is no correlation or relationship between two data sets.
Now equate that to self-confidence. A person who has a good understanding of their own gifts, traits, talents, and shortcomings has a self-confidence that is positively correlated with that self-awareness. The trouble comes when “r” gets closer and closer to 0.0 and how we see ourselves and our abilities has little to do with who we actually are.
I think it’s helpful to look at this from a statistical perspective because it suspends the emotion—that gut-deep belief—and allows us to objectively examine and better understand who we are as human beings.
I used the term “human beings” deliberately. Too often, in the past, I viewed myself through the lens of my work rather than my “human” lens. For instance, I knew I was kind and humble, but those aren’t exactly traits people search for in an executive! I looked on those as weaknesses because that was what I thought they were in my work. Those are the “soft” traits, frequently overlooked or ignored in a fast-paced world.
Well, my world has slowed down. I am kind and I am humble, and that feels right to me. Those are choices I have made in how I live my life, in how I interact with others. I have a giving heart and want to do all I can to create capacity in my community so that it meets the needs of the people who live here. I am honest, but have learned to accept praise graciously instead of stating all the reasons I don’t deserve it. I am intelligent but not quick-thinking. I have a sense of humor, but don’t like slapstick or basic silliness. I have a deep faith but am not remotely an evangelist. I am faithful to the people in my life and do all I can to show them how much I love and appreciate them.
I am also impatient—just ask Gracie, who can drive me nuts with her jumping, jumping, jumping! I make silly mistakes because I don’t take the time to be careful. I am sensitive, probably to a fault, although I’ve learned not to show it so much. I am a procrastinator. I am physically awkward and clumsy. I have been overweight all my life until I started my journey to wellness four years ago. I am a food addict. I often miss important details or struggle to keep them in my head.
I have had the same best friend for forty-seven years. I love my husband and my sons more than my breath. I am a nurse and a natural caregiver.
Know yourself, understand yourself, accept the good, acknowledge and work on the bad. Take the time to list out what you know and believe about yourself—not general beliefs like “I’m no good,” but characteristics that make up you. As you truly come to an understanding of who you are, the correlation between your level of confidence in yourself and who you are will start to strengthen. Your sense of your own value will become internalized, and you will no longer need the constant reassurances of others to believe in yourself.