If you don’t believe in yourself, you can’t believe in the value you bring. And if you don’t believe in the value of your work, you can’t feel confident and legitimate in what you do. This is the real obstacle to any kind of success.
Low self-esteem and low self-confidence have a negative impact on all the aspects of your life. Your well-being, inner peace and health, your income, the quality of your relationships and whether you can achieve or not your goals in life. The less you know about how this process works inside you, the most difficult it is to get rid of it and have a good quality of life, a life in which there’s no space to wonder if you’re good enough, and achieve fulfilment and satisfaction.
Low self-confidence keeps you stuck in the wrong job, company or context until you decide to do something about it. It shows up in your professional life in the form of self-doubt, frustration and disappointment and it gets worse with time until you decide to stop staying in a situation than makes you sick – and that can actually make you sick. My past story may sound familiar to you.
I had a corporate job and the subtle feeling that what I was doing wasn’t so meaningful or useful as I wanted it to be. My desire was to do work that matters – like actually making a difference – but honestly, I didn’t have the self-confidence needed to go after my dreams. So I stayed in my job, wasted time and energy in frustration, distraction and daydreaming about what could have been.
There were advantages of course: I wasn’t taking the risk of failing, of being successful, of making myself visible. So I couldn’t fail in trying to achieve it, but I couldn’t get what I wanted either. I spent some years in this low-profile situation, sitting with some friends in a bar on Friday evenings and complaining all together about our jobs. Like, for hours. Does it sound familiar?
When somebody asked the what if question, we were all pretty good in explaining that anyway what we wanted wasn’t possible, and that we needed to make do with what we had. It wasn’t a great plan, it paid the bills of course and it gave us a false feeling of security. So I stayed into jobs that I could do well, even when the mission of the company didn’t really matter to me and I tried to find what I called satisfaction – and what I call today recognition and value. Somehow that situation looked safe while it was actually very dangerous. I told myself and others that this is how things were supposed to be and even more dangerously, how life was supposed to be. How many of you do the same? Looking back, I can tell you that it was an horrible place to be, because when we believe that life is like that and there’s nothing we can do, we give away all our power. So we all stayed in our jobs and a certain point we’d become disappointed, negative, sometimes even cynical about them. We lost motivation, we changed jobs. And often the story started all over.
THE POWER OF LEGITIMACY
At that time, I still thought that if you want to be entitled, you need the right title on your CV. You need to be well qualified, have experience, be an expert. So I invested in that. I committed to use a part of my income for continuos education and I collected one degree after the other. I had skills, a lot of technical knowledge, I knew how to negotiate successfully, but I wasn’t feeling happier, more confident or more legitimate. After all those degrees, I was still frustrated because I didn’t feel entitled and legitimate in what I was doing. I was very competent but concretely I behaved as if I wasn’t entitled to do my job and this was what people perceived. The competence was there, but I missed the confidence to advance and the knowledge about how things work upstairs. I had questions like: how can I put myself forward for opportunities? How can I be recognised as an expert and a valuable contributor? How can I shift my mindset to think bigger and advance in my career?
Looking for the answers was real work. I often had this uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and one day I said to a friend: “Anyhow, the only things that matters is confidence. I can change job, partner and size a million times, but if I don’t feel good about it, I won’t be able to enjoy anything of this”.
So I knew I needed a mindset shift: feeling legitimate, valuing myself, my skills and expertise, putting them forward and asking back what I wanted. Talking about what I wanted. Do you know how hard it can be when you don’t feel you deserve it?
SUCCESS: A DEFINITION
I was determined to achieve self-confidence first and fulfilment after, so I made a plan.
- I wanted to do work that matters, so I wrote down what that was for me.
- I wanted to be successful at it, so I wrote down how to measure success, my personal KPI.
How do you know when you’ll have achieved what you want? This is so important to make sure you go in the right direction.
Then I looked at my goal: it was clear. I looked at the obstacles to achieving my goal and I felt stuck. Overcoming low self-confidence? It felt overwhelming. I wasn’t even sure it was possible. I was determined to address this problem and in a way that was smart and dynamic. For me and other women, because I know how many women live bad lives because of this.
So I started keeping a journal and I worked with different coaches to overcome it. I asked to be coached couple of times per week, on every new thing I uncovered. And they all came from the same root. The more I discovered, the clearer it was that there were wounds to be healed as the first step. The path became clearer and clearer. One after the other, I uncovered how all the (real) obstacles were internal. And this was the good news, because it meant that I could remove all of them.
This coaching practice, The Brave Hearted, was born out of that process. If I wouldn’t have done that work, today you wouldn’t be here reading this post about how I did it and how you can do it as well. I could have easily missed my life purpose, just for believing that it wasn’t possible. I would have missed to chance to change the lives of other women and watch them going from self-doubt to self-confidence and fulfilment.
And here’s what I know: self-confidence is all you need, because you can achieve anything you want, if you believe you can.