Welcome to Live Free Creative, the podcast that provides inspiration and ideas for living a creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. And I hope that each time you listen, you feel a little bit more free to live your life, exactly the way you want to live it.
Hello there. And welcome back to the show. You’re listening to Episode 131 of the Live Free Creative Podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. And today we’re going to be talking about cultivating confidence.
This is a topic that I get asked about a lot, and I’m excited to give you some specific tips and examples for simple ways that you can cultivate confidence in your own life.
I’m going to talk through the differences between self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-efficacy, and give you just a little bit of encouragement to get out there and do the things that you want to do without feeling held back by a lack of skill or ability or confidence.
As we get started, I’d like to share a little segment with you called Life Lately.
My Birthday Vacation… At Home
One fun thing that happened this week in my life was that I turned 38. I had a birthday. It was on February 9th and it was wonderful. I’ve always really been a birthday person. In fact, when Dave and I got married and discussed the traditions we wanted to have in our family and how we would handle holidays with our kids, our future kids, we talked about how birthdays are so fun because they are the only holiday where the entire purpose of the celebration is the birthday individual, the person who was born that day. That is the reason you’re celebrating.
Every other holiday throughout the year there is an alternative celebration, a reason that you’re celebrating beyond the individual. On your birthday, it’s really you. That is what you’re celebrating. And so we decided that in our family, we wanted to focus on the purposes behind the holidays. And so on your birthday, that is really just a fun celebration all about the birthday person.
We have lots of fun family traditions surrounding that. My kids always get to take the day off of school. My summer birthday gets to choose a different day during the year that he takes off of school.
We have them choose breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We usually do sprinkled donuts for breakfast, unless there’s some other thing they really feel strongly about. We just, we really try to wrap the day in love and celebration for the individual.
Well, I have no shame about creating for myself, the birthday that I want. And so last year I planned a trip for myself and Dave to spend my birthday in Mexico. Because of COVID, we decided to cancel this trip or postpone it–I’m going to say postpone it–until next year. That’s my plan.
Instead of just saying, Oh dang, we can’t go to Mexico and my birthday’s just going to be a total bust, I decided to try to figure out how to turn my birthday into the feelings that I wanted to feel on my Mexican vacation at home. And so I really went through this process of brainstorming what I wanted to feel like. What were the things that I really, really love about vacation. And I found ways to incorporate all of my very favorite parts of vacation into my birthday at home.
We called it a Mexico birthday celebration. It was so fun. I put together a little video reel about it. It’s on my Instagram page you want to check that out. @livefreemiranda Instagram, and I’m going to put together a full blog post detailing all of the different fun pieces of the birthday celebration, this tropical vacation at home that we created, in case you have a day or a weekend that you feel like you’d really like to get to a tropical place and, for whatever reason, it’s not going to happen right now.
You can recreate some of the feelings of what you love about that type of vacation at home in your own space. And I’m telling you, even as we were preparing it, as I was thinking it up and kind of planning and getting everything put together and actually rearranging some of the house in order to accommodate my expectations and my hope, I had this idea that this is going to be really fun, but it might not, I might not really sink into that feeling like I do when I’m on vacation.
Other than not being on a sandy beach with the ocean waves, which is a really lovely thing that is hard to replicate in your living room, all of the other pieces really did fit together so nicely, and I just felt so relaxed and loved and cared for all day.
I loved at breakfast, my middle son came into the dining room, which I had put this Mexican tablecloth down and had this pile of tropical fruit, and I was making chilaquiles, which is one of my favorite dishes for breakfast. And we were sitting down to eat. Eliot looked around and just said, I feel like I’m at a fancy hotel. And I was like, yes, I nailed it. That was exactly the feeling that I was going for. And even my 10 year old could feel all of the luxury vacation vibe.
So look for that blog post in a week or so, as soon as I have a chance to edit it and get it up. That was a really fun piece of life lately.
My Backyard Turf Project
The other thing that I wanted to mention, I think you all as listeners might think is interesting and funny, is that my oldest, who is going to be 12 this year, recently started listening to the podcast at night in his room as he’s falling asleep. He didn’t as me about it, or tell me about it, until he was all the way in the teens of the episodes.
He started with Episode 1. He has a Google home mini in his room that he normally would listen to a podcast or listen to music before bed. And for some reason, he decided to ask Google to play Live Free Creative Podcast, and it started Episode 1.
It’s been really fun and really sweet to have him tell me the things that he’s learning from the podcast. And I also think that he just likes falling asleep to the sound of my voice. I often read to him at night and I’ll read a chapter or two, and then I go to bed usually before he’s actually totally asleep. I think that there’s something really special about that. It’s really fun to know that, beyond hopefully giving you some inspiration and some advice and ideas for your own life, these episodes are now also helping my son go to sleep at night, double duty.
And the last thing, because I’m really excited about it, and hopefully I can just keep you updated on the progress. I invited my friend Jose, who also has helped me with some of the hardscapes in my backyard, to come over and look at my center lawn area in my backyard, which is just kind of a mess and has been an ongoing battle for the last two and a half years that we’ve lived in this house.
We decided that we are going to attempt to DIY install turf in the backyard. Well, he owns a landscaping and hardscape company, so it’s not as much DIY for him. But he has never put in turf. And I have obviously never put in turf. But we are going to combine our skills, our resources, and our confidence, to do this project together over the next couple months.
And I am thrilled. I love everything about my backyard except for the center area. That just turns into a big mud pile. And so this little bit of life lately also really ties into this episode because neither of us has done this before. And yet we are combining our ideas, skillset, and abilities and also some boldness and some risk-taking to tackle this project.
And by the end of it, we are very excited that we will both know a lot more about what it entails and hopefully come out with a beautiful outcome at the end of the project.
So I will keep you updated as I learn more. And as we get to digging on that section of the yard.
And those, my friends, are all of the pieces of my life lately.
Main Topic: Cultivating Confidence
Okay, let’s talk about cultivating confidence.
Now I want to start with that first word, which is cultivating. This is a huge part of the episode and something that I don’t want you to overlook. Confidence is the self-assurance we have that arises from our abilities or from some internal qualities of courage, motivation, and vulnerability.
The word confidence derives from the Latin word fide or fido, which means to trust. I think that’s such an important and interesting root. The idea of confidence as trust, trust in yourself, trust in your abilities, trust in the outcomes and the process.
Going back to the idea of cultivating confidence, cultivation means to grow. But confidence is something that we often assume that people have or don’t have. It is really important to recognize right up front at the beginning of this episode, that confidence is something that can be cultivated. It’s something that can be grown and learned and developed.
In fact, even people who you would look at and think that is a really confident person, their confidence is dynamic. It’s not a fixed trait. It’s something that ebbs and flows, builds and sometimes drains, depending on their own actions and thoughts and ideas.
Types of Confidence
As I was digging into how to present this episode, one of the things that I came across as a very important distinction was the difference between self-confidence, self esteem, and self-efficacy. I don’t necessarily think that understanding the distinction will make you more or less confident, or more or less able to exercise your confidence.
However, I do think it’s interesting to note that there are differences in the way that we apply this idea of confidence to our lives. These are all distinct characteristics that can be developed and cultivated individually as well as playing well together. I think that you will see the way that these three qualities play nicely together and they actually can build each other as time goes on and as they’re all exercised.
These characteristics of confidence are psychologically distinct in the world of psychology. They will be evaluated separately, and will be addressed or cultivated separately through distinct methods.
So let me just give you a quick overview.
- Self-confidence is specific to goals or abilities. Self-confidence means your trust in your ability to carry out certain goals. It’s action oriented.
- Self esteem is worth oriented. Self-esteem is believing that you are a good and worthy and important person, regardless of your skills and abilities.
- Self-efficacy is specific to a particular skill.
Self-confidence lends itself more to this umbrella belief in your ability to carry out certain activities and goals.
Self-efficacy would be specific. You can feel self-actualized in one particular area, even if you don’t have an overarching feeling of self-confidence. Maybe some of you can relate to this, that you can get these particular sets of things done without a problem.
But when it comes to globally feeling able to accomplish your goals more generally, maybe that’s where you come up short.
Or maybe it’s self-esteem. Maybe you feel pretty confident to be able to move through the world and achieve goals and use your skillset to accomplish things. And where you feel lacking is in self esteem. No matter how many goals you accomplish, or how many actions you take, you feel like you’re always chasing the belief, this inner belief, that you are worthy. Maybe you’re using your confidence in your abilities to make up for a lack of self-esteem or that underlying feeling of worthiness that, that exists despite whatever abilities you do or do not possess.
So while all three of these are important qualities to develop. High functioning, healthy adults probably will feel better as they strive for continued improvement in self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-efficacy.
In today’s podcast, I’m going to focus on self-confidence–not self-efficacy where we’re talking about a specific skill, how to get better at a specific skill, or self-esteem where there is that general underlying feeling of worthiness, which is very, very important. And I believe that a lot of other episodes have touched on that idea.
Today, I want to talk about how to go about building or cultivating this more global feeling of believing in yourself or trusting in your ability to complete specific goals and accomplish the types of things that you want to accomplish in your life.
One thing that I have often said, and I know I’ve at least shared at one time as a quote on Instagram, is that confidence is a result of action. We often believe that we need to feel the confidence in order to move forward into a particular project or action or goal. We’re waiting to begin the goal until we feel the feeling of ability to do it.
That is backwards. Confidence is built through the achievement of small goals. And as you achieve small, attainable, realistic goals, that confidence grows. And so does your ability to move on to bigger and greater goals. Confidence is the outcome of action; it’s not the predecessor or the precursor to action.
If you right now think of the most confident person you know, someone who just exudes confidence–not arrogance, not recklessness–but that just seems pretty sure of their abilities or who seems to trust themselves and move through the world without a whole lot of making sure that they’re on some prescribed path or checking around them to make sure that other people approve of what they’re doing. Those types of confident people.
Normally, you can just look a little closer at how many things they have done and how many things they have tried and how consistently they achieve small goals. That is the key to confidence: consistently achieving small goals or consistently trying and learning from small goals so that you can then move on to achieving them.
How I Learned to Sew
I want to tell you a quick story about how I learned to sew. Now, I truly learned to sew when I was eight years old and my mom signed me up for an after-school program in a neighborhood just nearby my elementary school. My older sister and I would walk over. I have this vivid memory of walking to the walk-in basement of this woman’s house. And it was a sliding glass door and she had the sewing machine set up on tables right inside her basement. It was like her little basement studio.
I don’t remember her or her face or really any of the things that I learned, but I know that my sister and I walked over to this house and knocked on the glass door and went in and had sewing classes for however long, a week or two, whatever the classes were that my mom had signed me up for.
Soon after I finished that class, my mom motivated me with this external motivator that if I could make two functioning pieces of clothing, she would take me to the mall to buy one. So if I made two shirts, she would take me to the mall to buy a shirt that of my choice. If I made two dresses, using patterns and fabric that she would provide for me–and she would sit next to me and help me the whole time–then she would take me to the mall to buy myself a dress.
This was really motivating for me. And I know I did it at least one time. I have memories of at least one time making two of something and going to the mall and getting something and feeling really proud of myself. And she helped me through it, taught me along the way, to continue to learn those skills of sewing and actually applying the skills that I had to something practical. And that was how I first learned to sew,
I didn’t sew again until junior high, when I had a class and I think I made a pair of boxers. My next experience sewing was in high school, home economics class, where I made a quilt. And then I put it on the shelf for a few years.
When I came back from my LDS mission in Argentina, I came home and I didn’t have very much money. I had just been gone and I had always worked my whole life, some sort of odd job and I’ve told you about a lot of those. But I came home and I hadn’t been working, so I didn’t have money in my savings account.
I wanted to go buy some new clothes, but I didn’t have money and I didn’t yet have a job. And I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do. There’s this weird transition period when you come home from being gone for a long time and try to integrate yourself back into real life.
What I did have access to was my mom’s sewing room and mountains of fabric. My mom had a fabric stash that would rival the local fabric store. She gave me free rein to access whatever I wanted within her fabric stash and use her machines, both her sewing machine and her surger, and also a dress form that she had on hand.
I don’t know that she specifically gave me permission to use the dress form, but I know that I saw it there and decided to start using it. I remember one day I was planning on going to a party that evening, and I was frustrated that I didn’t have anything to wear. I turned around in my closet a few times and then went to my mom’s sewing room and decided I was going to make something because I couldn’t find anything and I didn’t have the money to buy anything.
Here I had mountains of fabric and a sewing machine, and I knew how to sew. I had learned 12 years before. Well, this was the early two thousands. And some of you may remember a company called Shade, the Shade company that made these bodysuit type t-shirts that were just stretchy knit fabric that had just a barely a cap sleeve and were super long so they covered your belly and they fit really pretty tightly.
Looking back. I’m like, wow, that was an interesting style choice. But here we go. That was what I knew was popular. And I had a couple of those shirts and I looked at them and realized they were really just like two seams, shoulders and side seams, and a lot of the edges were even just surged edges.
I thought I can do this. There’s nothing to it. And so I found some stretchy fabric in my mom’s stash, and I laid my shade shirt on top of the stretchy fabric. And I cut along the edges and cut along the shoulders and mimicked the neck line. And I sewed up the sides and I sewed the shoulders and I thought, I’m just going to leave the edges frayed. It doesn’t even matter because on knit fabric, the edges don’t fray, they just roll, so it can look finished, even if it’s not.
And I tried to pull the thing over my head. And I got as far as my neck, because I had cut the fabric the wrong direction. So some stretchy fabric only stretches one direction rather than stretching side to side, as it needed to, to go around the girth of my body and my shoulders and pull it on over my head and my chest.
I had cut it accidentally with the stretch going the opposite direction up and down. So while I couldn’t get it over my shoulders, I could stretch it basically from my knees to the top of my head, because I had cut the stretch that direction.
Now I didn’t have any more of this particular fabric that I had chosen. I really liked that fabric, so I thought, how can I solve this problem that this shirt doesn’t fit over my shoulders or my chest? It gets stuck around my neck. What am I going to do? And I decided to experiment with cutting open the neck line, just like down, almost to the belly button, ad then using that scrap, the square I cut out, and turning it the other direction, and sewing it back in so that it’s stretched.
I’m going to have to find a picture and include it in the show notes. Just so you can have a visual. I think I have one of this shirt that I patchworked together using all supplies that were on hand a little bit of time. And a lot of just trying things, just sort of figuring it out, figuring out how to make it work.
And I ended up with a shirt that even though it sounds very Frankenstein actually worked, it actually looked okay. I wore it to the party that night and got dozens of compliments on it. It was unique. It was in the shade shirt style. And so it felt like kind of on trend, but it was this cool fabric and it was fun to say I had handmade it.
That was not a great example of someone learning to sew. There was nothing about the experience that was textbook. I didn’t do a single thing correctly, according to someone else’s idea of how one goes about sewing a knit shirt for oneself.
Confidence From Experience
What I did come out the other side of that experience with was confidence.
I had tried something. And experimented with it. And even though it did not work out the way that I planned, I learned so much along the way. The outcome could have felt different if I had just scrapped the whole project. Maybe it would have felt a little different if I had ended up just throwing it away. But I also could have started again the next day and taken all of the things that I learned and tried again.
Cultivating confidence really comes from trying again. I want to use this story to illustrate the idea of cultivating confidence, because sometimes the action and confidence feel like the chicken and the egg. You need to have some sort of confidence to begin in order to learn so that you build the confidence so that you can begin.
What comes first? How do you begin if you don’t feel confident, if you don’t have the skills, if you don’t understand how to do something, or you haven’t done it before? Something that seems really clear to me, when it comes to confidence and how to cultivate confidence, is that actually learning things is very important to the overall development of your ability to accomplish things. And the way that you learn things is to try. The way you learn is to do.
I learned how to sew by sitting down in a class, but I didn’t really learn how to sew until I allowed myself to experiment in very low stakes environment so that I could learn from my failures, learn from doing it wrong many times in order to develop the true confidence necessary to do it correctly.
Now I would not say that I, so quote unquote correctly or according to textbook, even now where I spent 10 years running a online sewing business, accustomed sewing business, I’ve sewn three wedding dresses that were beautiful. I have, you know, sewn hundreds of Halloween costumes, and I sew things for myself and my family often.
I really, truly, this is going to sound. Arrogant or silly, but I really, truly believe that I could. So almost anything. And that is simply confidence built through thousands of hours of experimentation of doing things wrong. A failing of learning of growing of trying again, I really do believe right now that when it comes to selling in particular, Even if I don’t possess the ability or particular skill, right.
This very minute that I would need in order to, so something incredible that I can learn it. I do not have the doubt in my ability to learn new things, especially in this field of selling that is so comfortable to me after tons and tons of practice, what true confidence comes down to is simply trusting yourself enough to try. Believing that you can learn. Not that you can do it right now or that you know everything you need to know right now. But truly believing that you have the ability to learn to do things.
And guess how you learn by doing things. Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe that you can or believe that you cannot, you are right.”
Remember how confidence comes from that Latin base fido or fide: to trust. Do you trust yourself enough to try? Do you trust yourself enough to give something a chance and allow space for those pathways to grow in your brain, for those neurons to connect for your muscles to start to remember something new.
How to Cultivate Confidence
Cultivating confidence really starts with that first step. And I want to share five specific tips for how to cultivate confidence in your own life. These will apply to whatever area you want to improve your confidence or your trust in your ability to try something new.
Tip 1: Visualizing and Verbalizing
The first tip is to set yourself up for success by visualizing and verbalizing.
Your ability to achieve your goal or to master that skill, picture your success. What does it look like when you do the thing that you want to do? What does it feel like? One of the ways that I do this with home projects is to always mock up my design either on paper or sometimes on Photoshop or oftentimes on an Instagram story.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen me take a picture of the backyard right now. And then I use all of the little coloring tools. Like add flowers here and do the green grass right here. And here’s where the chicken coop will go. And as I visualize it, I’m solidifying that idea in my mind and I’m clarifying it.
That’s so helpful because that clear picture gives me a clear target to aim for.
Verbalizing has been shown in research to massively improve your ability to continue moving forward when things get hard. Verbalizing may seem a little bit trite or woowoo. Something like affirmations comes to mind or a mantra that you have for yourself. Actually saying out loud: I am enough. I can do this. I have ability to learn. I have ability to grow. I trust myself enough to try. I will focus on the process, not perfection.
Any one of those mantras or those ideas or those things that feels motivating, actually saying them out loud, looking at yourself in the mirror even. And there’s some research, a whole Ted talk about the idea of a power pose, like stand in the mirror and put your hands on your hips, like a superhero and look at yourself and say: I can use the drill to hang the curtain rods in my living room. I can do it. I don’t need my husband to come home in order to use the drill.
That’s just an example of something that people have reached out to me about to say, how do you have the confidence to use power tools, even when your husband’s at work? And I need to explain to them that I am usually the one using the power tools. Even when my husband is home from work. I love using power tools.
That’s something that I have gotten really good at and enjoy. And although it’s something Dave is good at, it’s not something he really is drawn to. So there is desire that comes into play with confidence as well, but there’s not a magic pill that someone takes in order to all of a sudden be able to feel comfortable renting tools from Home Depot or using a saw or a drill. It’s simply giving yourself a low stakes environment in order to get started.
So my first tip is to set yourself up for success with visualization and verbalization of the specific skill or ability or whatever you’re working on in this particular moment.
This starting point can also work for just general confidence. Just saying I am good at the things that I do or choosing to reflect on things that you already have accomplished. A lot of times we think about how we’re so far from the goals that we have ahead of us, but what about all the goals that we already achieved and how we have moved from people that we were five years ago or 10 years ago into the people that we are today and how much progress that has entailed?
Sometimes that visualization and verbalization can be in reference to how far you’ve come and the mountains that you’ve already climbed in your life in order to remind yourself and reinforce the beginnings of building those confidence pathways in your brain.
Tip2: Process and Progress
Tip number two is to focus on process and progress. Not on specific outcomes.
If my goal when sewing my first t-shirt was to create a textbook worthy, perfectly seamed, start to finish t-shirt, I would have failed miserably. My goal was not to create a perfect t-shirt. It was to create a wearable-ish t-shirt, something that I wanted to put on for a party that night.
It was very low stakes and I didn’t believe that it had to be perfect. I just wanted to make something.
Lately I’ve been talking to people about creating time in your life and creating space in your life to make things. Even if you don’t want the outcome, even if you don’t need another t-shirt or even if you don’t need another quilt, or even if you don’t need another pair of socks and you want to knit something, there is absolute value in creating things for the process, learning how to do things for the learning.
We as adults often get sucked into the idea that we have to have something to show for our efforts, disregarding completely the efforts as important. Confidence is not built through pursuing perfection. It’s built by trusting yourself enough to try.
Do you believe that you can learn? Do you believe in being a beginner in order to become an expert? Do you trust yourself to stay in your own lane, not looking right or left or comparing your own progress to someone else’s? Can you focus on your life and the things you hope to achieve and learn and how you are the only one capable of doing that within the story of your own life?
The moment you start believing that you need to be like someone else is the moment that you start losing pieces of yourself. You yourself.
If we talk about self-esteem for a minute, you are worthy as you are right now, you have the ability to learn and to grow. You can learn new things. Confident children are usually those who have been taught–whether in school or through friends or by their own parents–some specific life skills so that when they’re faced with a challenge, they have some tools in the tool belt in order to face the obstacle and problem-solve.
The ability to put new tools into our tool belt does not disappear when we turn 18. We can continue to learn and to grow and to become good at things, even brand new things, throughout our entire lives. And confidence will come as you trust yourself enough to try and believe in the process over the outcome.
Tip 3: Surround Yourself With Likeminded People
My third tip is to surround yourself by those who are doing the same types of things that you would like to do.
Expose yourself to those achieving the types of goals that you would like to achieve. This is not to encourage competition. This is to increase your exposure, which also increases your ability to learn and understand.
Going back to power tools and my comfort level with power tools and DIY home projects. Although I don’t know that there is a gene specific to using a power drill, I was raised by the owner of a construction company. My dad owns a commercial construction company and spent my whole life teaching me how to do DIY projects. Before I left the house, I learned how to change the oil in a car and change tires and use a hammer and a nail.
And I had used a drill several times and even knew how to not only use the drill, but keep the extra screws in my mouth as I was going through the project. Does anyone listening relate to this idea or actually do the same thing. The ability to hold sharp objects in my mouth as I’m getting ready to use them. Like when I’m sewing and I hold pins in my mouth, as I’m getting ready to put them in or take them out of the project. It all winds together. These skills cross over from one medium to another.
I definitely gained some confidence in my DIY projects through watching other people, accomplish them through learning how to do them step by step as I was exposed to the project itself. This is why going to classes in person is so effective. This is why taking classes online can be effective. This is why watching YouTube videos to teach you how to do something could be really effective because seeing other people go before and do the thing that you’re trying to do, imbues you with confidence, with trust, with skills to do it.
You don’t really have a true ability to achieve that goal until you go through the process of actually doing it yourself, but you can definitely gain some motivation and some trust in yourself to try as you are exposing yourself to those who are achieving similar things.
I want to share another quick example that has been inspiring to me and hopefully will be inspiring to you.
One of my really good friends, Camille Andros, is a picture book author. Her fifth picture book is available for pre-order right now, and I will link it in the show notes. It’s called The Boy and the Sea. Beautiful story, beautiful illustrations.
She’s an incredible person and a really thoughtful, beautiful author. When I met her, I was so intrigued by this career in picture book writing that she had developed. And I asked about her background and how she got started. And she is an EMT by background. That was what she did for her job for a long time and has many children and always had the seed of a desire to be a picture book author.
And so she started to learn about the process and she started to go to conferences, to library conferences and to author conferences. And to put herself in a position where she was surrounded by people who were doing the thing that she wanted to do. She started following a bunch of authors on Twitter and agents and learning about what the process is to write a picture book. And then once you have it written, what do you do with it next? Traditional publishing can be kind of a convoluted and twisty and windy process. And Camille faced the challenge by exposing herself and learning at every step of the way.
She didn’t try to reinvent the whole process and try to make it up as she went. She figured out what the actual process was and the pathway that people who were successful in the field were using to become successful in the field. And she applied that and believed that she could follow this same pathway. And she tried. She put her work out there and she found an agent and secured a contract for her first book and then her second book and then her third book and then her fourth book.
And now this next book is coming out and it’s just been magical. I met her sometime just after her third book came out–before the fourth and the fifth–she’s been such an inspiration to me. This quiet confidence, the ability to learn and to grow and to believe in your ability to try.
Tip 4: Practice Failure
My fourth tip is to practice failure.
We often think about practicing for success or practicing skills.
What about failing? This is an inevitable part of life and a crucial step in our pathway to progress. So why don’t we try and get better at failing? You know how you get better at failing? By doing a lot of things that you don’t totally know how to do yet.
You get better at failing by going for something and having it not work out according to your exact expectations. What you gain as you fail is knowledge, skills, and understanding.
I’ve heard that so much of people’s success is a numbers game, that the people who are achieving the most in life are often the ones who are trying and failing the most as well. I’m sure that you’ve heard of like a one in a million idea. Guess how you get to that one in a million idea, or guess how you become that one in a million success story? You get there by trying a million things. By not stopping before you become as good as you hope to be.
In my mind, the cycle goes something like this: learn how to do something and then try it out. And then learn how to do it and then try it out. And learn how to do it again and try it out.
And maybe this is an upward spiral staircase that you learn something new, you add something to your skillset, you practice a little bit, and every time you get to a new level, you feel pretty good about all of the levels below you. And you still have a ways to go. All of those levels above you are all of the things yet to achieve.
This goes back to the very first tip that I shared about acknowledging how far you’ve come, recognizing where you thrive, what skills do you already possess that you can combine in order to move forward in the new project or the new idea, or this global umbrella confidence that you would love to cultivate.
What if every time you were nervous to start something, whatever it is that you’re struggling with your confidence about, whether it’s going out and meeting someone new or whether it’s hanging up a mirror in the hallway, or whether it’s learning how to bake because you really want to be someone who bakes and you don’t really know how, and you’re not very confident about your baking skills.
What if you just simply decided it’s going to take me 10 failures before I have any level of success? What if you just decided that the first 25 people that you meet and introduce yourself to and invite them over to be your friends are probably not going to be the people who end up being your friends? That after the first 25, you’ll maybe start to evaluate whether or not your process is correct, but give yourself a robust runway of failures before you even begin the judgment, before you even tell yourself that you aren’t doing it right.
I will tell you from my own experience that you’re going to fail a lot before you learn. In order to develop the skills that you need, you have to go through the process of learning. We forget that as adults. Think about your kids, if you have kids or children in your neighborhood or nieces or nephews or whoever, I’m sure you are familiar with some of the stages of development for kids.
Think of in the first five years, maybe six, of a child’s life. How many skills they learn that serve them for the rest of their lives. Eating. Talking. Walking. Using the toilet. Climbing stairs. Tying shoes. Putting buttons in and out of a buttonhole. Strapping Velcro. Unstrapping Velcro. Taking on and off your shoes over and over and over again. Riding a bike. Learning to read.
None of these things, none of these skills or these developmental milestones, happen in one instant. Not a single one of them is something that happens the first time it’s tried.
Do you know a baby that’s gone from laying flat, maybe lifting their head up, to standing up and walking across the room? No. We call them their first steps when they teeter-totter a little bit independently. But even before those first steps, there have been months of gaining neck strength, pulling up, pulling down, sitting up, sitting down, figuring out how you use a foot, wiggling the feet around, discovering the feet, discovering how knees bend.
There are so many intricacies and baby skills, tiny skills that go into the compound, more robust skill of walking that you don’t ever really acknowledge or notice. And it’s not like you would even consider any of those learning things, learning steps, failures to walking. What if you thought about that: from the time your child is, let’s say four months old and sitting up straight–I don’t remember exactly when children sit up, developmentally, and it’s a little bit different for everyone–but let’s just say four months. From four months until sixteen months when Plum walked.
My boys walked a little earlier, but Plum, Dave says she didn’t walk until she was older because I never put her down, which is probably true. I didn’t give her a lot of chances to practice because I just held her for so long as my last baby.
What if every time I saw her, one of my kids, trying to use their legs from four months until 16 months when they actually are walking. I thought: What a failure? They’re sure not walking yet. Oh, pulling up on the table. Well, you’re not walking. Nice try, you know, rolling over or doing that army crawl, that doesn’t look like walking.
No, you would never do that. Every single one of those baby steps, isn’t considered a failure to the grand goal. It’s a process. It’s the learning that happens along the way. It’s the easing up all of these little joints and figuring them out and how do those muscles work?
What if we thought about the skills that we want to develop and the abilities that we want to have and the businesses we want to start and the friendships we want to make and the power tools that we want to use, all of the things that you may want to do, but you feel like you can’t, or you feel afraid or you feel an inability or a fear or a stuckness.
What if you allowed yourself the runway of learning, if you didn’t even consider all of it failure, simply development of skill, ruling out what doesn’t work.
What have if thought of now that you’re starting a business, and rather than thinking, I’m going to try all of these things and hopefully they don’t fail, you think: I am going to try it. And rule out as many things that don’t work as possible so that I can land on the one that does.
It really doesn’t change the experience that you have. It just changes your perspective.
Practice failure. Try and try and try and try, knowing that you will fail and fail and fail and fail. And that every single one of those failures is simply a rung on the ladder of you climbing to the goal that you have, or your ability to achieve anything that you want to achieve.
Tip 5: Celebrate Along the Way
The last tip that I have for you in cultivating your confidence is really important. This one is to celebrate all of the small bits of progress along the way.
You try and fail and you celebrate what you learned. You make one tiny step on this 150 step process to where you want to be. And you rejoice that that step is behind you and you look forward to the steps coming up.
We are so much more likely to allow ourselves to cultivate this confidence, to allow that good feeling and that trust to build within us, when we also know that we will be there for ourselves, that we will support ourselves. It’s called self-confidence because no one can give it to you. Hundreds and thousands of people can believe in you, but confidence is when you believe in yourself. When you trust in your ability to try, celebrate, trying, celebrate the little tiny steps.
I work with a bunch of really incredible women in my one-on-one creative mentorship program. And if this is something that you are interested in doing and working with me, one-on-one, to bring one of your creative ideas to life or to find some rhythm in your work-life balance, I have so much fun working with these individual women.
And one of the skills that we work on is taking that big idea and breaking it down into the smallest possible step so that it will be impossible not to achieve that first step.
And after you achieve it, you celebrate it.
So maybe your goal is to start a new company and you are still figuring out all of the details, but we break it down and break it down and break it down to where the very next step is to call a company and get the answer to a specific question. This is something that you will be able to do no matter what. And you may not like the answer and the answer may not line up with what you hope for, for this future company. But if you call and you get the answer, you can celebrate making a step.
You can check that box. Maybe you put a sticker somewhere. Maybe you listen to a song in your car that you really like and just jam out and allow yourself to just feel good about the progress.
If you celebrate the progress, instead of just the achievement of the end goal, you are much more likely to want to make progress.
If you feel like everything you do is delayed gratification until some end future that may or may not even happen, what motivation do you have to get started?
I love celebrating all of my little successes. And I can do a better, I mean, I’m pretty good at it, but I can do even a better job at giving myself credit for the attempts, giving myself credit for the ideas for just moving forward with an idea, even if it’s a terrible idea and I decide that I don’t want to do it, or I decide after trying that: Wow, that certainly wasn’t what I expected.
Give yourself credit for being on the pathway. Not just for getting to the destination.
Recap the 5 Tips
I want to recap these five tips that I have for you to begin cultivating more confidence in your everyday life.
- The first tip is to set yourself up for success by visualizing and verbalizing your success.
- The second tip is to focus on the process and the progress.
- The third tip is to expose yourself to people doing the thing that you want to do, or just generally feeling the way that you want to feel.
- The fourth tip is to practice failure. Get really, really good at failure. That’s going to be a fun one. We all can do that.
- And the fifth tip is to celebrate every little win along the way.
I hope that in listening to this episode, you have a little bit more clear of an idea of how to get started cultivating confidence, maybe in a new area, something that you’ve been thinking about and pushing aside. Thinking I could never really do that. Or I want to do that, I just don’t know if I can. Or I definitely am not cut out for this.
My goal is that after listening to this episode, you can begin to trust yourself enough to try.
Thank you so much for tuning in and listening to Live Free Creative Podcast. I appreciate the chance that you give me to uplift and inspire and encourage you each week.
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And before I go, I want to mention that you can find the full transcript of today’s show along with all of the links and all of the show notes at LiveFreeCreative.co/podcast. Look for Episode 131.
And at the top of the show notes this week, I’ll include all five of the books by my dear friend, Camille Andros: Charlotte The Scientist Is Squished, Charlotte The Scientist Finds A Cure, The Dress And The Girl, From A Small Seed, the story of Eliza Hamilton, and her new book that is available for pre-order right now, The Boy and the Sea.
They’ll all be linked right there, easily accessible so that you can learn a little bit more about them and add some to your home library.
I wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day this weekend. I hope that you feel loved and celebrated, and I will chat with you again next week.
Bye. Bye .