April 24, 2024

The Surprising Secret to Leading with Confidence.

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Editor’s note: Please be aware before reading further, this article refers to a death by suicide in the author’s life.


If you looked at my life from the outside, you might be surprised to learn that I spent most of my years getting in my own way.

Despite achieving many goals and building a successful career, I was often in turmoil, filled with anxiety and insecurity. My life was all about impressing other people or attaining some image of success that I borrowed from society. But who was I on the inside? Who was the real me? And what did that real me really want? For a long time, I had no idea.

If you’re anything like I was, you’re tired of living a life based on comparison, competition, and fear. Maybe you’re doing all the so-called right things to be happy and successful, but something’s still missing. Maybe you’re afraid you aren’t good enough. (Join the club!) Maybe you feel like you’re going nonstop…but for what purpose? Maybe you’re asking yourself: Is this as good as it gets?

It took a hefty wake-up call for me to change the way I looked at myself and my life—and to accept that none of it was really working.

When the man I considered to be the love of my life jumped to his death, nearly a year to the day after another dear friend also died by suicide, I was forced to face a difficult truth: when we allow our self-worth to be defined by people and sources outside ourselves, we can never have enough or be enough.

When we depend on the approval of others, we stand on the edge of a cliff, ready to tumble from even the smallest setback.

I know there is a better way to live.

My personal commitment is to disrupt the thinking that says our self-worth is determined by external factors. And to help others stay well away from the proverbial “cliff’s edge.”

Today, I want to zoom in on confidence as the gateway to a deeply fun and fulfilling life.

I’m not talking about performance confidence or any of us faking it until we make it. I’m talking about sustainable, unbreakable, embodied confidence that’s built from within.

To be more confident, we don’t need a Harvard degree, we don’t need to look like a supermodel, we don’t need the mansion or Ferrari, although all those things are nice. We can cultivate confidence from within through what I call the five Ps.

The first P is Presence:

It’s all about showing up and being okay with whatever comes out of us in the moment. As I like to say, “Dare to suck.”

When we’re focused on putting out a “perfect” performance, it holds us back from trying new things. Instead, I’ve come to understand that the true “perfect” performance in anything I dare to try means showing up, trying my best, and not being great at first, or even ever.

When we show up and do something, there’s no longer this question of “Can I do this?” or “Who am I to do this?” because you are doing it!

That’s why getting into action and being fully present is such a massive confidence booster.

The goal is to be ourselves. It’s about being comfortable being fully seen for who and where we are in life. It’s accepting all that we are. And aren’t.

 The next P is Patience:

“Being okay if it happens and okay if it doesn’t happen is a very powerful place to be.” 

When I posted that on Instagram, it went viral. I don’t say that to celebrate the likes and views, but because it illustrates how much these words resonate with a lot of people.

We all want who and what we want, when we want it, and usually we want it right now!

But I’ve learned that our desire to try to control outcomes actually acts as a repellent to achieving our goals.

The alternative? Exercising patience. Practicing the art of surrender and staying detached from outcomes.

Surrendering to what is, and fully trusting that there is a plan far greater than ours working overtime behind the scenes. It’s a challenge of a lifetime and takes practice, but the rewards are so worth it.

This next P is Purpose:

Having a purpose greater than ourselves came up again and again in my research as a confidence booster.

On the days we lack inspiration or motivation to fully show up for ourselves, we can choose to show up for others or a cause greater than us.

Our purpose cuts through the noise.

To step into your purpose, ask yourself what energizes you, what gives your life meaning. What’s important to you right now and why?

What is the purpose that you haven’t allowed to break through the noise?

Often, I hear from people that they “don’t have time” to lean into their purpose. What I tell people is, you know what? It’s not about you. You have a gift, you have a talent, you have something that nobody else has, and you owe it to the world to share it.

So if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your family, your organization, a cause greater than you. Maybe you need to write the book. To start your own charity or platform. Something that I ask my clients a lot is, is it that you don’t have enough time or is this not a clear priority?

Preparation is the 4th P:

Being prepared breeds confidence directly and it leads to improved outcomes, which also boost confidence.

My swim coach Larry Lyons used to say, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”

What that meant was: prepare, prepare, prepare. Pay attention to the details and get them right. Revisit them as many times as it takes.

Knowing that you’re prepared helps immeasurably in letting go and surrendering yourself to what comes, confident in the knowledge that you’ve done your part. You feel free. You can have fun and savor the moment.

The final P is Practice:

Raise your hand if you feel comfortable sitting quietly with no company or distractions for an extended period of time. Alone with your thoughts, in silence. No phone.

And this is what I mean by practice—practicing mindfulness and the ability to sit with an open mind. Not what you expected, right? Certainly, other (more traditional) forms of practice are valuable as well, but those fall under the category of preparation.

The practice of sitting with an open mind is our fifth and final P for building confidence. It helps us discipline our minds. It quiets the noise of the world.

We become more practiced at listening to our higher selves and our innate wisdom. We learn to tune out the kind of outwardly focused thinking that tells us, You’re not good enough. Why did you say that dumb thing? Who are you to have this dream? It will never happen.

Tuning into your inner truth will help you recognize your own worth and value and move forward with genuine confidence.

So those are our five Ps: presence, patience, purpose, preparation, and practice.

Now, let me leave you with one last story. My speaking coach is a spicy Cuban man from Miami. He often says to me (or sometimes screams at me), “Just be a freaking person.” He knows about my struggles with perfectionism and obsession with performance, and he reminds me to just get real and be me.

When we’re being ourselves, we’re relatable and authentic. We don’t have to pretend to have it all together. And that’s true confidence. It’s the courage to be who we truly are. Not that pretend, polished person, but the messy one behind the scenes. True confidence is the trust to let down the wall and let ourselves out.

So, I’ll leave you with that last kernel of advice.

Just be a freaking person. We’ll love you, just as you are.



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