Dr. Thomas Harris made the following wise observation on insecurity and confidence: “Most people never fulfill their human promise and potential because they remain perpetually helpless children overwhelmed by a sense of inferiority. The feeling of being okay does not imply that the person has risen above all his faults and emotional problems. It merely implies that he refuses to be paralyzed by them.”
I began my post with this quote. I recall a time when I believed in my own abilities. Some people who knew me called it ego. Some cockiness. Some overconfidence. Some just thought that I knew what I could do. I knew I had limitations. I worked hard to overcome the ones I could see and to recognize new ones as soon as I was mature enough to do so.
Still the words "Ego" and "Cocky" began to stick with me. I began to wonder if it was true. My desire to be better at the things I could do well forced me to look at my faults so I began more and more to focus on them. I believed that if I focused on my weaknesses at all times that I could rid myself of the ego and the cockiness.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want you to think that I blame others for this. My choice to interpret their words in this fashion was my own.
Instead of saying "Thank You" when someone gave me a compliment I began to describe why I did not deserve it. If it was about music or performance I would offer suggestions for how I could have done better. I didn't even realize how ill mannered I had become.
Now as I say these things many of you, especially those of you who perform or are artists probably do the same things. Some are good at saying "Thank You" and save the self criticism for later. Some are just like me. Some of you are good about accepting praise and are genuine about it despite knowing you could do better.
Recognizing weaknesses, that's a good quality. See it, fix it if you can and move on. Recognizing your own accomplishments, I contend, is also good. See it, figure out how to repeat it, figure out when to repeat it and move on.
What about awards? Trophies? Reminders of past success, is it moving on to keep those? Only you can answer that truthfully but I would argue that you can keep memories, reminders, tokens of these things and still remain humble. If you take them out and polish them everyday and try to bring them up in every conversation, maybe they aren’t so good for you. But it can never be a bad thing to pull them out and remember how it made you feel to accomplish something. Remember how hard you worked and even how much you learned and improved since.
“On My Shelf I Have a Few Trophies” is the name of a blog post I made over a year ago. In it I described my ordeal with not feeling good enough. About looking at past accomplishments with shame, thinking that otherwise it was egotistical to think of them any other way. We are warned against pride often. Pride cometh before the fall….there is no such thing as righteous pride…(I paraphrase on those, I think, and at this moment I’m too lazy too look them up to give proper credit)
Recognizing what you’ve done and what you are capable of is not pride. Dwelling on it, holding it over someone else, building yourself up with it while thinking of others as beneath you, that is pride. And I am arguing here and now that dwelling on your weaknesses and ignoring your good works is also pride.
If someone asks you if you can do something and you can, you say “Yes.” If they tell you good job you respond with sincere gratitude.
You can be Humble and Confident.
I wasn’t completely lazy I did look up one other quote. It was said by a man I that looked up to and thought of as having a quiet dignity and humble demeanor. so I will close with that quote:
“I believe in myself. I do not mean to say this with egotism. But I believe in my capacity and in your capacity to do good, to make some contribution to the society of which we are a part, [and] to grow and develop. … I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world, be it ever so small.”
“President Hinckley Shares Ten Beliefs with Chamber,” Church News, Jan. 31, 1998, 4