I used to look at confident people and be totally in awe of them. I was amazed at their ability to not give a &$#* about what other people thought, never doubt themselves for a moment, and to do virtually anything they pleased.
I wanted so badly to have their confidence, but I thought that confidence was like having blue eyes – you’re either born with them or you’re not.
I began to meet some wildly confident people: people who led companies with thousands of employees, people who advised and worked with world leaders, and people who have made real marks on our planet.
And I realized something shocking: I totally misunderstood what it is to be confident.
In fact, most of us do.
We see confident people as being bulletproof – as totally and always believing in themselves and their mission, devoid of anxiety, fear, and insecurity.
Confidence is a shift in focus
In reality, confident people are no different than you and I. They have insecurities and doubts and fears just like everyone else. The difference is their ability to navigate around their fears and concerns.
Confident people, in my experience, focus on their passion and allow it to overwhelm their fear.
Therefore, confidence is the ability to overwhelm your fear, insecurity, and anxiety by focusing on what you want to achieve. It is the ability to focus on what you’re able to do (even if it’s not much at first) while casting aside the elements outside of your control. Confidence is the condition of focusing so intensely on the positives that you are propelled out of your comfort zone and into action.
Vulnerability is the threshold you must cross
The relationship between confidence and vulnerability is also commonly misunderstood. We generally think that confidence and vulnerability are opposites. But they aren’t opposites. They are two faces of the same coin, forever connected to one another.
Confident people will readily make themselves vulnerable because they know that in order to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve, they have to be vulnerable. There is no way around it.
A world leader stands in front of the planet. She says, “I believe in X, Y, and Z, and I’m going to do A, B, and C about it.”
Millions of people love her and follow her. They are attracted to her vision and mesmerized by her honesty.
At the same time, millions of other people think she’s being stupid and attempt to detract her. Quite frankly she’s wildly vulnerable for being honest about who she is – especially since she’s doing it on the world stage.
But she’s not focused on the people detracting her.
She’s focused on her passion, she’s allowing herself to leave her comfort zone, and she’s doing her best to ignore the detractors who don’t think highly of her.
She still has her fears, insecurities, and vulnerabilities, just like you and I. But that’s not where her attention is.
We think of confidence as the lack of insecurity. No. Confidence is the state that results when you train your focus on your passions and your desires so intensely that they overwhelm your insecurities and you take action. Vulnerability is the threshold we have to pass through to access confidence. Our insecurities never vanish; we just learn how to work around them.
The core difference between a confident person and an insecure person is their focus. You can develop confidence by shifting your focus from the negatives to the positives and taking action.