We have all met them, and wondered in awe as they effortlessly radiate from within that one thing that we all strive to perfect…Confidence…
So we ask ourselves, what are the traits by which truly confident people operate? How do they project such ease of assurance…such a complete understanding of their own certainty and determination?
In order to fully appreciate this valuable asset, we must first delve into how the genuinely self-assured behave. There are some basic attributes of a truly confident person, let us examine and see if we are able to implement elements of these traits toward our own pursuit of luminous tenacity and self-possession.
People who possess the trait of self-confidence will, when warranted, take a stand on issues they feel passionate about, not because they think they are always right…but because they are not afraid to be wrong. Whereas cocky and conceited people tend to take a position on any given issue and then proclaim, bluster, and totally disregard differing opinions or points of view. They KNOW they are right – and they want (actually they NEED) us to know it as well. This cocky behavior isn’t a sign of confidence; it’s the hallmark of an intellectual bully. The self-assured person, who passionately debates their views, will stick to their principals, yet also concede that others are entitled to stick to theirs as well.
They listen ten times more than they speak….and recognize that blatant bragging is a mask for smallness and insecurity. Truly confident people are quiet and unassuming. They already know what they think; they want to know what WE think. So they ask open-ended questions that give other people the freedom to be thoughtful and introspective. They ask what you do, how you do it, what you like about it, what you learned from it…and what they should do if they find themselves in a similar situation. These confident people realize that they know a lot, but they also wish that they knew more…and they know that the only way to learn more is to listen more and accept advice when it is being given by others with broader knowledge.
Confident people also generally duck the spotlight so that it shines on others. Perhaps it’s true they did the bulk of the work, true they really did overcome the major obstacles; perhaps they helped turn a collection of divergent individuals into an incredibly high performance team, but they don’t need the recognition; they don’t care about it, because they recognize the true value of their accomplishments…And because they know what they’ve achieved, they don’t need the glory. The truly confident don’t rely on the validation of others, because they know that true validation can only come from within. So they stand back and celebrate their achievements through others, giving opportunity and acknowledgement for their collaborators to shine – giving a deserved confidence boost to those who stepped up and showed their own worth.
These pillars of self-assurance are also not afraid to ask for help, and do so freely. While many people feel asking for help is a sign of weakness and that by doing so, implies in the request that there is a lack of knowledge, skill, or experience, confident people are secure enough to admit their own weaknesses. They often ask others for help, not only because they are secure enough to admit their need, yielding that they are not the ‘owners’ of the only way to accomplish a task, but also because they know that when they seek assistance they pay the person asked a huge compliment. By saying, “Can you help me?” they are demonstrating their respect for that individual’s expertise and judgment, knowing that alone they will be unable to adequately terminate their task at hand.
Whereas the majority of us feel we need to wait: To be promoted, to be hired, to be selected, to be chosen…indeed, feel as if we need the old Hollywood cliché, to somehow “be discovered”. The truly confident think, “Why not me?” They know that access to success is almost universal. They know they can attract their own funding, create their own products, build their own relationships and networks, define their own path – they can choose to follow whatever course they wish. They reach for the stars and are not afraid to pluck them into their own realm…And often very quietly, without calling attention to themselves, they go out and do it.
Another trait of poise and sureness is their innate comprehension that they have no desire to put down other people; they do not need to diminish others in order to feel secure. Generally speaking, people who like to gossip, who like to speak badly of others, do so because they hope that by comparison to make themselves look better….because of underlying insecurities these types tear down those whom they perceive to be competition in order to build themselves up. However, the only comparison a truly confident person makes is to the person they were yesterday – and to the person they hope someday to become.
In addition, they aren’t afraid to look silly…when one is truly confident, one doesn’t mind occasionally being in a situation where they aren’t at their best. True confidence doesn’t feel intimidated or offended at being able to laugh at it’s less than stellar moments….and oddly enough, people tend to respect us more when we do. Assurance own its mistakes. Insecurity tends to breed artificiality; confidence breeds sincerity and honesty….That is why truly confident people admit their mistakes. They don’t mind serving as a cautionary tale and willingly share their screw ups. They don’t mind being a source of laughter – for others and for themselves. When we are truly confident, we don’t mind occasionally “looking bad.” We realize that when we are genuine and unpretentious, people don’t laugh at us…They laugh with us.
And finally, confident people only seek approval from the people who really matter to them. Some people falsely think that having professional and social networks of hundreds or even thousands is validation for whom they wish to be….But they fail to realize that if there is no substance, these connections pale in comparison to earning the trust and respect of the select few in our lives that really matter. When we earn their trust and respect, no matter where we go or what we try, we do it with true confidence – because we know that the people who matter the most are genuinely behind us…cheering us as we learn to share our gifts and talents with humility and openness.