15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.

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The Problem With Your Confidence-Building Plan

confidenceWe naturally feel trepidation whenever we are confronted with a new task. Well, perhaps “naturally” isn’t the correct word since one-year-olds don’t have the same hesitancy. In fact, that nervousness is something that is a learned trait. Perhaps because we get laughed at or ridiculed when we fail at something as a child. Or maybe because we actually get physically hurt attempting a task. Whatever the cause, we (two-years-old and over) somehow develop this feeling of trepidation when we are confronted with something new.

Because we seek to avoid failing, falling, or fumbling, here’s how we normally seek to confront that mysterious new “thing” in our path. First, we want to build up our confidence. Second, we want to develop some skill. Third, we want to attempt it. Then finally, we achieve the results or success that we are looking for.

The problem is, the real world doesn’t work that way. You never develop confidence in something until after you do it. You certainly don’t develop skill in something until after you try it a few times. So, here’s how that process should actually look:

Step one, start.
Step two, increase skill and confidence.
Step three, results.

Do the thing and you will have the power. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

You need to put the action in first before you begin to develop skill and confidence. Increased skill and confidence can accelerate your passage from step one to step three. But until you actually put some action in to initiate the process, you are just idling. And idling always increases fear and trepidation (I really like the word trepidation).

Sometimes you will fail, fall or fumble. Any failure is a lesson in how to achieve success on your next attempt. Any fall is a signpost on where to step carefully next time. Any fumble is a reminder to keep your eye on the ball. Each attempt increases confidence on the next attempt. The only time that failure is final is if you QUIT.

So don’t try to gain the confidence first to do the thing you’re been waiting on.

Do the thing.

Get the power.

Nine times out of ten, your fear will disappear the moment you start. More of us are held back by fear of failure than by failure. The only thing that can build up your confidence, is action.

Just do it. ~Nike, Roman Goddess of Victory

What have you been postponing or procrastinating on this week?

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That First Step’s a Doozy

ImageStep One: Begin

Step Two: Does it really matter? You haven’t taken step one yet.

Step one is the most important step, because it leads to step two. Step one requires more effort than any other steps. It forces you to overcome your physical and/or mental inertia and start moving.

Take that first step on total faith. What can possibly happen?

  • A. You continue on to step two and are merrily on your journey.
  • B. You stumble and fall and have to redo step one, but now you have insight and experience to make sure you aren’t tripped up again.
  • C. You quit; but some day, weeks or years from now, you decide to resume your journey and at least you know what to expect at step one.
  • D. You quit and never try again; but at the very least you can say that you made an attempt at some point.

Every one of those options is better than never taking a step.

The important thing to remember is that you don’t even have to know what step two is at the time you launch into step one.

Just take the first step. See what happens. Impress yourself with your own ingenuity. Stepping into the unknown is better than sitting in complacent inadequacy.

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Lessons to Unlearn from School, part II


Think inside the box

Remember what I said in part 1 about the goal of public schools? Reminder: It’s to create complacent followers not independent thinkers. To teach students what to think, rather than how to think.

Recollecting your school days, have you ever tried to push a project or assignment beyond the parameters of the lesson plan? And been punished for it? More often than not, it’s because the teacher is not qualified to teach outside of their box. They are certainly not incentivized by their government bureaucrat bosses to explore lessons outside that box. And besides, most teachers are the ones that memorized the contents of that box better than everyone else (“A” students wind up teaching…). Their job is to teach the box.

Back in one of my jobs as a barista, I worked with a lot of college students. One of them (attending public university) was showing me a list of available topics for her final paper. Along with each topic was: the thesis of the paper, a list of all the points that must be included to support the thesis, and the conclusion she must end with (I only wish I were making this up). In other words, these students were not being required to come up with their own thesis, analyze data and come to their own conclusions. They were being required to parrot back their professor’s opinions in order to get an “A.”

When I asked her “what if you disagree with your professor’s conclusion?” she didn’t really have an answer. To be honest, when I was her age I wouldn’t have had an answer to that either.

In public schools, conformity assures passing grades. Thinking outside the box will almost assuredly damage your academic record (unless your teacher is Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society). In the real world, conformity destroys individual initiative. And initiative is infinitely more valuable in the real world than conformity.