Boldly take the road leading from uncertainty to confidence

Karen Natzel, BridgeTower Media Newswires

Who doesn’t want more confidence? At an organizational level, we may seek certainty for the sake of stability or profitability. Our level of confidence may be impacted by marketplace conditions, trust in leadership, resources, infrastructure, strategy or culture. Confidence is measured by consistently and effectively navigating change, growth and adversity. Resilience breeds organizational confidence.

On an individual basis, confidence is an intoxicating, magnetic quality that feeds courageous actions. It sparks creativity and excitement to pursue ambitious goals and aspirations. Possessing healthy confidence can be the difference between being motivated by hope or fear. In fear, we focus on the potential dire consequences, failures and mistakes; the concern of embarrassment, shame or letting someone down. On the flip side, confidence embodies a trust in our abilities, qualities and judgment; it feeds our sense of hope and instills an infectious optimism.

Confident people tend to tackle challenges head on. They are less likely to procrastinate, succumb to analysis paralysis, or be distracted by the fear of making mistakes. They don’t require certainty to proceed. They don’t agonize over decisions. They tend to be a creative force of energy, inspiring collaboration and action. Their confidence might be expressed in bold solutions or quiet persistence. They trust themselves.

And confident people are not confident all the time. Early in my career, I frequently invoked the mantra “fake it ’til you make it” because I had no substantial work experience on which to demonstrate my capacity. I would always say, “yes, I can do that,” and figure out the details later. For a while it worked brilliantly, infusing my career with growth opportunities and success. Then I discovered the imposter syndrome.

The imposter syndrome, according to Wikipedia, refers “to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as fraud.” Its scale is epidemic. People from all walks of life have admitted their fears of being found out; of being not as good as people think they are. People with this infliction often focus on what they haven’t done, not on what they have. Maintaining an image of success but not believing you’ve achieved or earned it is exhausting. It’s stressful to keep up what you believe is a façade. It also deteriorates your sense of peace and confidence.

When I started my consulting business 13 years ago, I thought I was supposed to know everything that my clients asked about related to anything within the realm of my expertise. I found myself saying, “Sure, I can do that.” “Fake it ’til you make it” had returned in full force. I would scramble to find the answers to their complex problems. I realized several things: 1, if it were that easy, they would have solved it themselves; 2, I don’t have to have all the answers; I just need to help them make strides in the right direction; and 3, if I pretend, I may miss the opportunity to create a more powerful solution together. While I will always like the challenge and intensity of being stretched, I no longer need to fake it.

With all due respect to Robert Schuller, I’ve never liked the question “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I couldn’t take that leap of logic that I wouldn’t fail – that there was a guarantee of success. It seemed artificial, like a hollow exercise for which my ego would lament the impossibility of it all. I realized that the question wasn’t about “not failing” but rather “How can I fail so that I may grow in self-assurance and self-acceptance?”
What fosters genuine confidence?

Stop comparing yourself to others. Author Iyanla Vanzant writes, “comparison is an act of violence against yourself.” From material possessions to social status to life experiences – we each have our own story to create and we never know another person’s real inner world. Be inspired, not envious or self-judging.

Suspend judgment. When we sit in judgment of others, we create a dynamic of mutual judgment. It’s stifling, fear-based and diminishes courage and capacity.

Take risks. Experiment. Make more mistakes. Our confidence soars when we break through real or perceived boundaries. When we stretch ourselves, our comfort zone expands.

Give your best. By doing the work, you become good at your craft, which can be immensely satisfying. Your sense of accomplishment grows when you don’t hold back. Let go of self-limiting beliefs that don’t serve you. As you repeatedly practice giving your best, you’ll build mental and physical muscle memory that helps you believe and own the results.

Have the courage to say what you mean and say what you want. Candid speaking is a sign of self-respect.

Be authentic. One of the key performance indicators of a healthy and high-performing team is camaraderie. Teamwork is optimized when you show up in a genuine way ready to share your respective strengths in a collaborative manner. It means you are present and engaged, not carrying the baggage of “not good enough.”

Let go of being right. Instead, embrace a sense of curiosity. With a beginner’s mind, you don’t have to be the “expert;” you can simply be present for the experience.

Focus on being of service to others. Remove the attention on yourself and show up to help others – you’ll find it’s a win-win.

Accept compliments graciously. Do not dismiss or discredit them. That’s not of value, nor is it respectful to the giver.

Celebrate your successes – large or small! Your “to do list” is never-ending. Try creating a “what I did list” at the end of the day and savor your accomplishments. Don’t rob yourself of the joy and pride of your wins.

True quiet confidence is not boastful, nor does it need to brag for attention or accolades. It’s not insecurities hidden under cockiness. Instead, there’s a deeper, more rooted confidence that comes from doing the work and internalizing the successes. It’s the kind of confidence possessed by intrepid souls who nurture attitudes, choices and behaviors that work. Don’t let your fears impede your hard-earned success. Trust yourself.


Karen Natzel is a business therapist who helps leaders create healthy, vibrant and high-performing organizations. Contact her at 503-806-4361 or


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