Cornerstone of Confidence

By: Susan Marshall, founder of the Backbone Institute, LLC

What would you do if you had greater confidence?

Over the years I have asked this question a lot.  As you might imagine, the answers vary.  Start a business.  Write a book.  Leave a bad relationship.  Quit smoking.

Some people say that if they had more confidence their lives would be completely different.  They might be living in a different city, married to a different person (or not married at all), working in a different job, and actually feeling happy!

When asked what holds them back, they often cite circumstances beyond their control.  They don’t have the power, energy or resources to change things.  They don’t have the confidence.

The real truth is that they have not made up their minds to do something different.  They have not made a commitment.

People who make commitments live simpler lives than those who don’t.  Their lives are not necessarily easier, but they are simpler.  People who make commitments decide who they want to be and how they want to live.  They decide the types of people they will welcome into their lives and the ones they will keep out.  They decide what values will guide their actions, how they will invest their time, and what outcomes they are hoping to achieve.

Commitment is the cornerstone of confidence because it involves making decisions.  Saying yes to some things and no to others.  It starts with a vision of you at your best and puts countless little steps in place for achieving that vision.  It honors your relationships, acknowledges your responsibilities, and accepts the truth that you are in charge of you.  Commitment turns wishful thinking into purposeful action.    It is the bedrock of confidence.

Here’s some good news:  You are not born with a finite amount of confidence.  You don’t reach a peak one day when everything is going well, and then either stay there or regress to lower levels of confidence as life brings its inevitable challenges.  You can deliberately increase your confidence by making decisions and taking action.

It may feel selfish at first to concentrate on things you want or need when so many others depend on you.  The opinions of everyone from friends and relatives to bosses and co-workers can muddy the waters and confuse your thinking.  The expectations they place on you can feel impossibly heavy.

Which is one reason why commitment is so rare in today’s world.  We are often taught to make sure that while we are taking care of ourselves, we are not neglecting someone else.  Conversely, if something isn’t working, we are encouraged to chuck it.  Commitment looks these protests in the eye and calmly chooses to move forward.

Want more confidence?  Start with a commitment.