Siobhán Cahalan | What if…you understood Confidence anew?

“We can spend our whole lives, and many of us seem to, puzzling over how we can achieve a 100% consistent state of unyielding ‘self-confidence’.”

Confidence. “About 2,100,000,000 results (0.47 seconds)” in a Google search. A human interest. 

At business-type events, the word confidence is bounced repeatedly around the room. Usually, it is mentioned, dropped in and left hanging with no explanation, nowhere to go, no road map. Many times, it is presented to us as a label. We don’t have that much confidence. We lack confidence. It’s presented as a given. A fact. The way it is. Leaving the event, walking away, with an echoing dull kernel, subconsciously accepting the fact that, yes, they are right, I am not yet good enough. I need to do more.

Online, the definition of confidence and self-confidence sometimes seem to be interchangeable. However, they are not the same and they do not refer to the same thing. The word confidence means to have full trust. Self-confidence, then, means to have full trust in oneself. Different angles, different focus. 

Interchanging the terms amplifies the feeling that I do not believe in myself enough to have the amount of confidence I want and need. It leaves us in a relentless hopeless situation. Do I really think I can achieve a 100% consistent state of unyielding ‘self-confidence’? Regardless of the situation, context, environment, task? It may be an unrealizable target. Instead of enhancing ‘self-confidence’, it can be a mindset fated to amplify self-punishment.

“The opposite ends of the plank stamped with the words ‘lacking’ and ‘enough’.”

We can spend our whole lives, and many of us seem to, puzzling over how we can achieve a 100% consistent state of unyielding ‘self-confidence’. A hide-and-seek game of oscillation. Now I’m good enough. Now I am not. On the self-confidence seesaw, the up-and-down back-and-forth motion is almost as sickening as the real thing. The opposite ends of the plank stamped with the words ‘lacking’ and ‘enough’. Not able to hold the plank steady for long enough. Crudely yanked to the opposite state by someone else or, more times than not, by ourselves.

What about this unrelenting ambition we put upon ourselves? Self-development, learning, getting out of our comfort zone, pushing ourselves, being the best we can be. All these may be necessary. But which mindset motivates them? When I do them, am I experiencing good stress or bad stress? What if the result of all the effort is not enhanced self-confidence, but the opposite? A feeling of not being good enough? 

What if we disconnect the terms ‘confidence’ and ‘self-confidence’? What if we try to remove the ‘self’. In this case, the self being represented by the ego and the mind. That part of ourself in charge and creating the mindless fickle havoc.

Getting back to the meaning of confidence. To have full trust. If getting to the 100% consistent state of unyielding ‘self-confidence’ seems out of range, what can we have full trust in?

What are four ways which may help us see confidence in a new way? 

We could get clear on our intention. What is our intention? How can I develop a worthy intention? One that is so clear and robust that it becomes my focus? Well-deserved time-off from the fluctuating ‘self’ maintaining the focus on something more definite.

We could bring our attention to now. Realize the now is all we have, observe it and choose to make the wisest choice we can in that moment, right now.

We could strive to have less, do less, be less. Taking a respite from the ego. Being. Listening. Accepting. Knowing that I do not need another thing to prove my worth. 

We could become aware when confidence comes to visit. Whether we are visited by ‘lack’ or ‘enough’, or another of its many guises, we can look it in the eye, and say “thank you for visiting. What have you come to teach me?”

In an organization, how is confidence defined? What is the mindset around confidence? Something to be dreaded or something celebrated and encouraged? How does confidence support collaboration? What is the link between confidence and collaboration? Healthy collaboration is achieved through each party having a healthy self-belief and supporting others with theirs. How does confidence contribute to the current governance culture? How can confidence help close the gaps to establish a best practice governance environment?

Wisdom Tool Number One: Know your Intention

When we place the burden of responsibility on the ‘self’ of ‘self-confidence’, we carry a substantial load. Aren’t we really too complex to be in a constant unwavering state of healthy self-belief? What if we placed the responsibility with something other than ourselves. An intention. Our intention, our vision, separate from us, separate from the self. How can we get so clear on the intention, that it drives us? A power source that kindles the fire in us. The focus on the source of the power, the intention, and the fire within a by-product of that, fueling the choices and actions to make it happen. 

“The noise will recede and the contribution of each action will build the intention and the vision.”

Getting clear on the intention means to bring the Focus to One™. To get so clear on the intention that it forms the core of what we do. We become clear, focused. We know that every action we take will be in line with that core. The noise will recede and the contribution of each action will build the intention and the vision.

What if every idea that pops into our head is a unique idea, unique to us. No-one else has that idea in that exact way. It is your idea. Where did it come from? Let’s say, it came from your unique intuition. What happens if I push that idea away? If I ignore it? What happens to the idea? It is still your idea. It may disappear altogether. It may disappear for a while. It may stay banging on your door forever. It is up to you whether you open the door to that idea. Building trust is about acknowledging. Open the door a little bit. Make a note of the idea. Open the door wider and give the idea some thought. Take it a step further and create something of the idea. Acknowledging and acting on our ideas can lead to acknowledging and acting on our intuition. As we strengthen the value we attach to our ideas, we strengthen our intuition. As we strengthen our intuition, we strengthen trust, confidence.

In an organization, what is the intention? The big picture vision? Are stakeholders aware of it? Are they empowered by it and encouraged to keep focus on it in a healthy way? Are stakeholders ideas respected and heard?

Wisdom Tool Number Two: Bring the Focus to Now

It seems we attach a timescale to confidence. It seems to be a friend which has been accompanying us for a very long time. Maybe further back than our first memory of a situation where confidence became a thing. That three-year-old feeling so confident. Or that three-year-old not feeling confident. Carrying all the confidence experiences with us, the ones that felt good, the ones that didn’t. 

“How does that prediction of what we will do keep us doing the same thing over and over?”

What if we realized that those experiences were real. Were valid experiences. And that they are in the past. What about the confidence experiences we expect in the future. The ones we plan. For example, I will not do something in the future because confidence won’t allow me. Who is in charge here? Us? Or the visitor called confidence? How can we let it predict what we will not do? It can also predict what we will do. How does that prediction of what we will do keep us doing the same thing over and over?

When we bring the Focus to Now™, we give ourselves a break. A momentary break from the past: what we have experienced, or not experienced. And the future: what we expect to experience or what we plan to refuse to experience.

In a moment of experiencing confidence in one guise or another, score it. Ask yourself, on a scale of one-to-ten how confident am I feeling now? It may help to objectify the experience and to gravitate towards the score you would like to have in that moment.

What is your lifelong journey with confidence? Do you see it as corresponding to your age? A steady line, upwards or downwards? A line which deviates based on experiences, events, contexts, situations, people?

What is the cost of confidence? What are some of the possible costs associated with lack of confidence? The cost could be monetary, love, health, peace of mind, success. If we don’t enhance our confidence, what could it cost us?

“How could we embrace a lower-risk mindset of experimentation to help drive us forward?”

What percentage of time does confidence take in your head? What percentage of space does confidence take in your head? What percentage would you prefer? Are perfectionistic tendencies preventing us from moving forward with small steps? How could we embrace a lower-risk mindset of experimentation to help drive us forward?

In an organization, how are we held back from excelling based on the organizations past and its expectations of the future? How are learnings and wise future growth plans supported in the Now? What is the confidence rating of the organization? Depending on the context, situation, environment? How is confidence holding back or propelling forward the organization?

Wisdom Tool Number Three: Do Less, Not More

There seems to be the idea that doing more and having more will lead to greater confidence. How could more stuff lead to more trust? Is there any link between the two? If I get another diploma, will that help me to have full trust? Will it help me to have greater trust in myself? 

What may help is to recognize that there is a level of inner confidence and a level of outer confidence. How trusting am I inside? How do I communicate that level of trust? How is it perceived? How trusting of myself am I inside? How am I expressing that trust of myself outwardly? 

“Once I learn the skill, I will have a balanced inner and outer confidence in that particular situation.”

Inner and outer confidence can be different from each other. Noting that is a good first step. Recognizing the inner and outer variance in others can be insightful. How can we align inner and outer confidence? To a place of equitable trust? When speaking of self, a gap in inner and outer confidence may be due to a competence gap. A skills gap. I trust I can do something, but I simply do not know how to do it. Once I learn the skill, I will have a balanced inner and outer confidence in that particular situation. Then learning the new skill, gaining the new knowledge provides a real result. Before we embark on a new learning, it may be worth questioning our motives. Am I undertaking this to genuinely close a skills gap? Am I engaging in it as a way to increase my level of trust? What is the link between what I am committing to and trust?

Confidence can often pop up when we are asked to introduce ourselves. The inner and outer can be the same. Or they can differ. What is an introduction of self? How can a person even get close to introducing themselves in one or two sentences? It is no wonder this can show up wearing the mask of lacking confidence. What is, actually, the task at hand? With all the layers of complexity of a human being, this task is unobtainable. Even a biography of a person cannot tell the whole story. How could we reframe this task and allow a deep sigh of relief to transcend upon the business world? Instead of the words ‘introduce yourself’, suggest a few lines which are relevant to the people in the room. What are one of the reasons I am here? What experience do I have with the topic? How would I like to feel at the end of it? 

In an organization, what is the measurement of inner and outer confidence? Where do employees place inner confidence on the scale? How is the organization perceived from outside? Which score is the higher? How can the organization bridge the gap to align the score to the higher?

Wisdom Tool Number Four: Look it in the Eye

Confidence, trust, is unique to each of us. The source of our trust can be based on a complex layer of several elements. Our trust system can be influenced by transgenerational characteristics and beliefs instilled in us by our environments and cultures. There are beliefs we may not be aware of, conveying them subconsciously. Beliefs can drive our choices, decisions, actions and behaviors. Some we are consciously aware of. Some require deeper digging to unearth. Some may never come to light. Knowing our behavior has a link to beliefs we carry is the first step in awareness. Being aware of the sources of why we do or say or think the things we do offers a glimpse into a greater understanding. From that place of understanding, we can make choices. We can choose to accept our behavior and the belief driving it. We can choose to change our behavior and the belief driving it. 

We can ask ourselves questions to heighten our awareness, such as:

What is my belief about confidence? Where is it showing up in my life? Where else? How is it impacting me?

How do I see confidence – friend or foe? How have I become as successful as I am? What is my way of appearing confident?

What is my first memory of confidence? Reflect on your lifelong journey. When has it shown up – as a friend or foe? How long do you have the belief? Where is the belief coming from? 

“What are the many guises of confidence?”

When confidence comes to visit, in its many guises, look it in the eye. Thank it for visiting. Ask it what it has come to teach you. Observe it. Learn from it. It is not you. It is a visitor. 

What are the many guises of confidence? Confidence can show up wearing a variety of masks. 

‘Enough’ confidence can mask conscious intention, feeling great, courage, openness, happiness, freedom, truth, inclusion, evolution, self-belief, momentum, empowerment, being fiery, aligned, secure, collaborative, grounded, excited, good self-esteem and energetic.

‘Lacking’ confidence can wear the mask of running away, imposter syndrome, loneliness, bitterness, struggle, fear, noise, feeling stuck, procrastination, unhealthy power games, hiding, unclarity, frustration, doubt, going in circles and anxiety.

Each individual mask can trigger us in one way or another and can affect what we do and what we don’t do. 

What do you need to believe to be true to attain your goals? Bring to mind a belief about confidence. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Change it. Look at your goal. Take the first small step. Positively acknowledge completion. Take the next small step. Positively acknowledge completion. Yes, you can do it. Reinforce it. 

“Confidence is an output. Not an input. We don’t wait to have ‘enough’ confidence to do something. We take conscious action and slowly gain confidence.” 

Recognize that we build confidence by taking small actions and positively acknowledging completion of those actions. How can viewing confidence in a different light help you attain your goal? Confidence is a choice to take steps to fulfil your goal. Confidence is an output. Not an input. We don’t wait to have ‘enough’ confidence to do something. We take conscious action and slowly gain confidence. 

The success of an organization can be driven by the trust invested in it and confidence in its choices and actions. Being clear on the goal and taking small steps to get closer to the goal helps to builds more trust, and confidence.

“Good self-governance leads to good organizational governance.”

To further explore how you can access your innate wisdom, to better understand confidence, leading to enhanced self-governance and organizational governance, schedule a coaching conversation with Siobhán. 

Drop a note to to set something up.

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