‘Extroverts are lighthouses focusing their beacon outward to the world. Introverts are lanterns radiating a glow inside themselves’ (Marti Olsen Laney).
Do you find yourself a little confused about whether you are confident enough?
Confidence is often a misunderstood term, as it can be confused with the extroverted way, such as: doing things quickly, outwardly exhibiting high energy and engagement and stacking up external accomplishments— the outward projecting beacon of the lighthouse.
If our culture enforces this persona of confidence then it can sometimes be a bit tricky to be introverted, right?
This can force the more quiet person to retract from the world or even engage in over-exaggerated ‘acting’ and exhibiting exhausting extroverted behaviour— the glow of the lantern inside extinguished.
This can lead to that sinking feeling of overwhelm, emptiness or a feeling of being deficient— your unique qualities forgotten.
I invite you to think about confidence slightly differently. There are two types: one is a confidence in who you are, and the other is confidence in what you do (accomplish).
Interestingly, it is the first version that is more sustainable as no one, or circumstance, can ever take the inner glow of confidence away from you.
Accomplishments, on the other hand, can come and go and are unreliable indicators of confidence. After all, it’s okay when you are doing well and things are easy; What happens if you are not doing so well or things are harder to achieve? Your resilience can take a battering and your confident glow can be extinguished.
So, the best and most sustainable confidence is based on your inner qualities.
I invite you to make an inner pledge to yourself to help you achieve your goals in life: be curious, tolerant of your mistakes, determined and kind to yourself as you learn new skills and try out new possibilities within your workplace.
Do you realise how many wonderful qualities you already have and are perhaps invisible to? You are generally persistent, conscientious, a deep thinker, creative and imaginative, diplomatic, good listener, independent, quietly effective, thoughtful, good decision maker, with an ability to focus for long periods of time, and you can take many nuances of a situation into account.
Yes, you already have the inner resources to boost that inner glow of confidence in who you are— acknowledge and be mindful of that. But be patient with yourself, as the Extrovert Ideal world can confuse us in conflicting messages of what confidence really is.
So, I invite you to try a little exercise to boost your inner confidence and turn up that inner glow:)
Think of a forest of trees in which you are a woodcutter clearing sections to make beautiful furniture and sell: an analogy for what you do.
Now think about the wood cutter who is also conscious about the sustainability and the future resilience of the forest: an analogy for who you are.
The consciously aware woodcutter plans to plant trees to replenish the stocks of the forest and help keep it thriving and flourishing. (S)he not only chops down trees and makes beautiful furniture, but also replenishes the trees by planting more—a woodcutter with a brilliant inner-glow.
You are now the consciously aware woodcutter who takes every opportunity to replenish the trees in the forest. By visualising in your mind, replenish the tree stocks when:
- You take action that moves you toward a goal or priority; plant a tree in your mind (or note in a journal).
- When you are fearful but you are able to take action on something; plant a tree in your mind.
- Whenever you trust and value your emotions; plant another tree.
- If you are criticised and you are able to objectively consider their feedback and respond without attacking yourself or reacting to another; plant another tree in your mind.
- Whenever you are hopeful: plant another tree.
- If you are disappointed—allow yourself some time to feel sad— then reflect and re-frame and keep moving forward; plant another tree; in fact, plant 5!
Imagine how you would feel about yourself if you mindfully acknowledge the many attitudes required for inner confidence— you would soon have a flourishing forest of trees and a resilient future no matter what happens in your life.
If you record your tree planting in a journal, then it may be helpful to look back on it when times are a bit tough, as our minds can quite easily default to a more negative thinking pattern when we are stressed.
There are so many observations in nature that can influence our lives in a positive way. What are your thoughts? Now, go plant some trees!
***Adapted and inspired by the book The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney***