Believing in yourself is a core piece of our framework at uLEAD. Our Competence Principle affirms that Belief in your own potential is vital for personal growth and leadership development. Yet, I often hear people joking about believing in oneself, in essence challenging others or themselves to try something, often something stupid. So let me try to clarify:
Believing in yourself does not mean:
- You can fly.
- You can make money appear out of thin air.
- You can walk through walls, break a board with your head, rip a cable with your teeth, etc. (Unless you are Harry Potter standing at the doorway (wall) of platform 9 3/4, or you are some form of celestial being…and if you are reading this, i’m guessing you are not.)
So why do people feel that they need to mock an idea that is so important? Why do we not encourage our society to show vulnerability and moments of failure? In one of her TED Talks, Brené Brown encourages us to understand that real power comes through vulnerability (https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability). Can we do that as a society? Can we believe in ourselves so much that it makes us vulnerable to the rest of the world? Imagine the authenticity we would live in if this were so.
I recently came across a YouTube video by Kevin Nalty. He claiming that if he “believed in himself enough” he could break a board with his head. SERIOUSLY!?!?! Believing in yourself DOES NOT equal being able to break a board with your head. Check out his results.
As I watched in frustration, I began to think about the reality that this video represents. Nalty (a viral video creator) claims that in order to accomplish something you need to believe in yourself, have a plan of action, and follow through. These steps aren’t half bad and it sounds similar to advice I might give in a uLEAD experience. However, we can’t stop there. Just because we believe in something, doesn’t mean we are meant to be doing that at this moment in time. When we fail at accomplishing the task we set out to do, essentially we smack into a “wall”. And we end up thinking, “I didn’t believe in myself enough", so we try harder and harder continuing to smack right into the same exact place on that same exact wall.
What if believing in ourselves is not the issue? What if we are supposed to actually be making something different happen?
I would advocate for not giving up and trying multiple times when you are in a tough situation. I would also advocate for noticing the signs…like the one that is now stamped on Nalty's forehead from hitting the wall repeatedly! Try something new. You have skills and talents to use, so USE them! Don’t spend your energy in the same place when you are obviously not making any progress. You may come back to solve that issue, but it might require a different path.
Pay attention to how you are using your gifts and abilities. Believe in yourself and what you can do. And be acutely aware of where life will take you. If you run into a wall, take a step back and look around. Find a ladder or a doorway and try it. Or try a totally different path. But for goodness sake, don’t repeatedly bash your head in!! Believing in yourself is not for the immature. It’s for people who are serious about life and making an impact in this world.