We often think of confidence as a robust and expressive attitude. We like to deem opinionated and self-promoting individuals as confident while we consider quieter and more reserved people to be insecure.
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We might look at the self-proclaimed genius or the over-his-head high school quarterback and view them as confident while, in reality, insecurity and a deep fear of disapproval is what drives many of these individuals. Insecurity is the true opposite of confidence.
A truly confident person does things they feel strongly about without worrying if they will be judged or ridiculed. An insecure person, on the other hand, spends their time concerned about what other people might think or say about them.
To be truly confident then is not to proclaim your greatness to the masses, rather it is a quiet knowledge of one’s own strength. True geniuses don’t know that they’re genius, and a truly great person does not speak about his or her greatness. If you are truly confident, you see no need to brag or to sell yourself to others. You simply be who you are, knowing that some will hate you while others will embrace you.
True confidence entails knowledge of your strengths as well as your weaknesses. A person who is full of pride only sees their strengths while a person who has low self-worth may only identify their weakness. A person who posses true confidence is both humble enough to admit their weakness and has the self-assurance to acknowledge their strengths.
Humility and confidence are not opposites. Neither are they relatives or close friends. They are one in the same. To truly be confident one must be humble and to truly be humble one must be confident.
How, then, is an individual able to attain this humble confidence?
As is the case in any attitude change, the shift from pride-based-confidence to humble-confidence begins with your mindset. You must begin by admitting that you do indeed have flaws. Next time your receive criticism, analyze it without telling yourself a story. Ask yourself “is this critique of value?” and “should I change what I am doing?”
Someone who possesses humble-confidence does not take criticism as an insult, rather they use it to their advantage. They use it to make them better. They know how to honestly analyze their abilities without giving themselves the benefit of the doubt.
Next, you should change your attitude from that of an expert to that of a student. Good students submit to the knowledge of their teacher, they know that they don’t know. To truly be a student one must have the humility to admit that they still have much to learn.
No matter how much of an “expert” you are, there’s still so much you can learn. A true expert starts as a student. She becomes an expert by learning from other experts. Therefore, you will never truly become an expert if you never admit that you need to take the time to learn new things.
The most important aspect of humble-confidence is the idea of living for no one’s validation. A confident person does not seek to please others, he seeks to do what he thinks of right no matter what people might say or think. A truly humble person has the same attitude, she does not hold her reputation as more important to her work itself.
A person who posses humble-confidence is not self-absorbed, they are self-forgetful. They are so focused on their work that they leave their ego behind to pursue things that are of greater value. They forget their desire for validation as they seek to be the greatest they can be. They leave behind empty opinions and compliments for reality and work that fulfills them.
To be self-confident without simultaneously being a narcissist, we must all work towards humility and self-awareness. If we desire to truly be successful, we must put away our pride, only then can we do our best work.