“Hi, I’m a Life Coach, well, I’m trying to be…”
I said, after introducing myself at a recent networking event. For some reason, I felt completely uncomfortable giving myself this title that I had been working so hard for. It was my first time presenting myself to others AS a Life Coach. Not just saying I had been in school to become one.
It was this moment where, clearly, I seemed to lack all confidence and assumed I was being internally judged for having such a lofty title. “Life Coach.”
The word vomit kept coming. “It’s just really hard trying to juggle school and my day job and trying to take on clients…”
Blech! I wanted to punch myself in the face so that I would stop talking. It was a moment that replayed in my head for days. Why was I putting so much weight on this title? Why was I lacking so much confidence?
Recently, I did a survey and asked , “If you could improve 1 thing about yourself, what would it be?” An overwhelming response was: confidence.
Me too. Me too.
So I spent days thinking about it. Talking about it. Reading about it.
Here’s what I found.
When I was promoted to a Management position at my job almost 6 years ago, I had no formal experience (well, once I was a Manager at a Beanie Baby store when I was 17, but then my Mom called the owner and told them I couldn’t work there anymore because I needed to go to sleep earlier because I was still in high school. Anyway…). I was what was referred to as a “known risk.” I’d been around a few years, people knew my reputation, my personality, my strengths and my shortcomings. In my interview, I was asked if I was “ready?”
Surprisingly, I considered the answer to that question a lot. Was I ready to do a job I had never done? But this question was often interpreted as, “Do you think you can do the job?” My response was, “‘Ready’ is a relative term.” And then went on to explain that I was aware there was a lot I didn’t know and would need to learn but that I was 100% committed to doing whatever it was going to take.
I wanted to be this thing, so I was committed to growing myself to become it.
Basically, my decision to be something + my actions = I am that thing.
There’s this saying in the church.
“God qualifies the called, not calls the qualified.”
If we remove the biblical context, it’s the same as the earlier equation. The decision to be something almost always comes before the ability to do so. But we sure do put a lot of pressure on ourselves to flip it around.
Ultimately, our ability or skill level has nothing to do with who we say we are. Referring to oneself as a Photographer has nothing to do with whether you are a mediocre one or an extraordinary one (unless you specifically state that part of it…but that’s weird. Who does that?). Let’s break it down. When I had a Photography business, I had a camera, I took pictures with it and people gave me money. Sounds legit to me. That’s really all that’s required. It’s up to me to hone my craft and go from a “good photographer” to an “incredible photographer” but, regardless, I am a Photographer.
Here’s one more that a larger population might relate to (Danette might say otherwise).
A woman discovers she is pregnant and is going to keep her baby. The moment the child is born, she is a Mother. Whether she is a good one or bad one is irrelevant. But she’s committed herself to figuring it out. She is a Mother. For better or worse.
Decision + Action = Result
Here’s what I’ve finally decided about this whole confidence or lack thereof thing:
We should not gain our confidence from our abilities, but gain our confidence from our commitment to improving/evolving our abilities.
When I was 18 I made up my life’s mission statement (who does that? Me. Nerd, I know.), “I want my life to be a catalyst that propels others into their destiny through a foundation of belief.” (Sounds like a Life Coach mission statement if I ever heard one). I will be 33 years old in 4 days. Because I’m a Math nerd; That’s a 15 year commitment. I’m committed. No question. And for most people who know me, my actions (or behavior) are also in alignment. Regardless of whether my title is Life Coach, Leader, friend, sister, Mentor, blah blah blah. I should be confident that I’m committed to this thing!
I have no reason to lack confidence. I am a Coach. I’ve been acting like one for years, it’s ok to start calling myself one.
Here’s why all of this is important: only you know your true level of commitment. Nobody else can tell you otherwise. It cannot be compared to another’s. Nobody else can tell you that you are or you are not committed. Ability can be assessed, commitment not so easily. We can, however, assess our own levels of commitment. We know how serious or not seriously we are taking something. And if we aren’t seriously committed, then we probably shouldn’t call ourselves such.
But if you know you are COMMITTED to whatever it is you’re doing, whether it be starting a business, being your 100% authentic self around others, or deciding to become healthier, be confident in your commitment to giving it your best…and have grace with yourself when you aren’t (don’t confuse discipline with confidence).
So, where have you been falsely placing your confidence (or sense of self worth) in your abilities? I encourage you to re-assess. Commit to yourself instead. Remind yourself you’re learning and will be learning for the rest of your life. Mastery will come, perfection is not required.