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Be Sure of Yourself

Confidence is the feeling that one can rely on someone or something — firm trust.  That means self-confidence is firm trust in ourselves.  “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life,” a quote from Marcus Garvey.

Self confidence is a skill just like playing basketball. Basketball players practice — not just once, but every day.  If we want more self confidence in a certain area, practice, practice, practice.  Repetition becomes the vehicle for arriving at our destination.  Malcolm Gladwell says that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice are needed to become world-class in any field.  Where ever you lack confidence, start practicing over and over.  It’s common for us to bail when we hit a little adversity.  When we make our first attempt at public speaking and it flops, we quit. But the 10,000 hour rule encourages us to stay at it.  Thomas Edison’s teachers labeled him as too stupid to learn. Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb but he just kept at it.  Self confidence comes as we practice it.  

Confidence is also a reflection of what is going on in our mind.  Thoughts influence actions.  Tearing ourselves down will never result in building anything up.  Self-confidence cannot come from self-deprecation. If we want more confidence, we need to start with more affirmation.  Step one: put distance between us and the people who feed us negative information about ourselves.  Step two: find people who are positive about themselves and learn from them.  Step three: deliberately affirm ourselves every day.  A good place to start is believing in our ability to improve.  As we make these changes the pathways in our brain begin to alter — the ruts that negativity had burrowed begin to fill in and our positive mindset starts building new roads to different places.  Remember Muhammad Ali saying, “I am the greatest!”  He knew affirming himself would lead to confidence.  And he definitely had that.

Lack of confidence comes from comparison, negative input, giving up too easily, and not seeing people as human but super human.  When we stop comparing and start seeing people as real, reduce our own negative input and practice skills repeatedly, the result is confidence.

Stillness in the Commotion

We live in an on-demand culture.  It’s hard to find a person who doesn’t carry a computer in their pocket that can access the world.  In that kind of society, we expect more from how fast our food is prepared to how quickly we can find the definition of a word we’ve never heard to a car that will drive for us.  At the same time we are making these demands, we are faced with unlimited opportunities.   It is a privilege to live in this age where so much is at our finger tips.  Unfortunately, we’ve allowed it to create, not just commotion, but c h a o s.  

Learn to say no.  Think through a criteria for what is best, not just good.  When you go to your favorite Italian restaurant and look at the menu, there isn’t a bad choice on there.  You want to say yes to the lasagna but then you see the Alfredo and the marsala and the shrimp scampi.  What will you do?   You will find so many good opportunities — dance for your preschool daughter, football for your teenage son, serving on a board, connecting with a local organization, social events, business engagements, a place to share your expertise, a way to volunteer in the neighborhood — that you need to practice saying no. Because the truth is when you say yes to something you are unknowingly saying no to something else.  Once you know what is best for you and your family in this season of your life, it will empower you to say no.  Everyone will be better off because this will begin to reduce the chaos.   

Unplug from your electronic devises for 24 to 36 hours every week. I just heard the collective gasp!  When was the last time you or your family spent a full day uninterrupted by email, texts, phone calls, tweets, posts, gaming, blogs, even breaking news?  What would you do with that time?  Would it bring some stillness into the commotion?  

Take 5 minutes to be still 3 times a day.  Uh, Oh!  You just thought the unplugging was going to be hard!! Going no where in your mind, aka stillness, is extremely difficult in our always-in-motion world.  Let’s compare this to my note taking.  When I take notes I start out with a piece of paper with wide margins.  In the beginning I keep all of my notes within the margins.  Then as more information comes at me, I begin to write in the margins.  Not much at first, just a few crucial points.  Eventually, I have scribbled all over the margins and drawn arrows from one point to another.  At the end of my note taking, I have a chaotic mess that cannot be deciphered.  This leaves my notes of little value.  Our lives are the same way.   Make quiet moments (arrive 5 minutes early to a meeting and sit in the car, use the time in the kid’s school pick up line, before your feet hit the floor in the morning or after they slip between the covers at night) to clear your mind of problem-solving, bargaining with God, and planning for what is coming next.  This stillness gives you more room to notice what the main points are and remember them regularly.  

There’s no better time than now!  We are entering the busiest season of the year.  If you start being intentional about introducing stillness into your world now, you’ll be even better at it when we turn the calendar over into the new year.  I’d love to hear from you. Which one of these are you willing to start practicing today — saying no, unplugging devises, stillness?