What is True Confidence?
The inspiration for this quote came from a similar sentiment by Robert Frost in the book, “Life 101” by Peter McWilliams and John Rodger. What I love about this version, however, is how it frames our ability to listen to others in terms of our confidence in who we are and what we believe.
Now, I’m sure that for many this might be a new take on the concept of confidence. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some feel that confidence is actually measured by just the opposite, or how vehemently we defended our perspective when faced with someone or something with which we disagree.
This certainly seems to be the case when we turn on the news or other media where different factions debate the righteousness of their perspectives on a particular issue. In fact, it seems as if media goes out of its way to pit one person against another with the hope that sparks will fly.
While, some may see this as entertaining from time to time (and I stress the term “may”), I’m going to suggest that in “real life” or the type of encounters we find ourselves in on a daily basis, debate, sparks, and disagreements are not particularly productive. In fact, what I have found is that when we get upset and launch into a diatribe about how we are right and others are wrong, the result is rarely understanding and a changing of perspective, but exactly the opposite. In other words, people will almost always just as vehemently begin to defend the very behavior or perspective we want them to change!
On the other hand, when we can listen to someone in order to learn what is important to them (without the need to evaluate whether we agree with their perspective) we can often gather very useful information. Information that allows us to then frame a solution, or at the very least a “next step” in a way that combines both what we want and what they want.
This takes confidence. If we are unsure about the value or validity of our beliefs, what we think or feel about a particular issue, or whether we even have the right to hold a belief that differs from others, then we will have great difficulty listening to others. In fact, we may find ourselves desperately looking to them to validate our beliefs, and becoming very threatened, annoyed, and/or angry when this doesn’t happen.
Therefore, I suggest that we first spend some time choosing the ideas, concepts, and perspectives on which we build our lives. Let’s make sure that these beliefs help us create the life we want, that they support us in making a statement about who we are, and that we would recommend or teach these beliefs to a child or someone we cared for.
Once this is done, then let us sit back and listen with confidence, knowing that just because someone else might hold beliefs different from ours, this does not make them our enemy or someone with whom we need to argue. Quite the contrary, they can be seen as a gift, because either we will listen to them and hear something that we hadn’t considered (in which case, we might want to amend some of our beliefs) or we will learn more about what is important to this person and how what they want and what we want overlap, which will allow us to influence what comes next.
Or, we may just “agree to disagree” without damaging the relationship. Regardless, we can be confident in the fact that we have chosen who we are and what we believe on purpose, in a way that is congruent with our highest purpose, and again, in a way we would teach or recommend to someone we love. This will allow us to hear just about anything from anyone without losing our temper or perspective, which will then allow us to confidently choose what we do next. Hmmmmm, confidence is not only our ability to listen, but our ability to choose. Seems to me to be just one more reason to practice living and working “on purpose.”
~ All the best, Dr. Bill