You Are a Dragon Slayer

It’s been my privilege to coach many of the world’s best and brightest young people…

It’s been my privilege to coach many of the world’s best and brightest young people over the last decade-plus, and one of the biggest issues they’ve presented has been that of self-confidence. Whether it’s the young consultant whose key client is twenty years his senior, or the talented singer who is sure she’ll be “found out” as an example of a mistake in the audition process, or the newly-promoted “high potential” person who hears criticisms behind his back that he’s too young for the job, confidence has been like gold to these folks: precious, and hard to find.
How’s your confidence? Are you, too, awaiting with dread that moment when you’re exposed as the imposter you think you might be? Do you feel limited in your attempts to do great things in the world by your own sense of powerlessness? Is it as simple as being unable to easily assert your own point-of-view, merely because something deep inside you says you don’t have the right?
It’s hard to be an inspirational leader without a basic level of confidence.
Here’s your homework assignment… it’s simple (though that What To Expect After First Chemo doesn’t mean you won’t struggle with it) and powerful:
Count the dead dragons lying behind you.
You see, each of us occasionally finds himself in a period of low self-confidence. Even your dad, or that superstar at work who makes everything look easy, or that demanding customer… each of us, from time to time, inwardly entertains at least a morsel of self-doubt. It’s at such a time when Lifestyle Education you’ll feel like the knight of old, standing between the castle and the fire-breathing dragon before you. You have the armor. You have the shield, and the sword. But what you may lack is enough of a feeling of evidence that you are likely to slay the dragon, and not be its next charred snack.
At that point, turn around and look behind you. If you’re like most of my coachees over several years, you’ll see the bodies of many dragons you’ve slain. Maybe it was the grade card you were able to bring home from 8th grade… the time you caught the touchdown pass… the applause after a dance recital they said you’d never be ready for… the day you landed this great job… the day your business made its first dollar. Remember: each of these “dragons” looked just as menacing and scary before you slayed it!
Too often, smart and talented people don’t give themselves enough credit for their own accomplishments… and they stop seeing themselves as capable of accomplishing great things. Many times I think it’s because their accomplishments weren’t as difficult for them as the same achievements would’ve been for someone else, so emotionally, the victory doesn’t “count.”
So inventory your dead dragons. Actually sit down and write out a few stories, each no longer than several sentences, about some of those accomplishments. Include in each story what made the dragon scary at the outset, what you did, what obstacles you overcame, and how utterly devastated you left the dragon at the end.
Perhaps the most typical finding on the part of my coachees who’ve conducted this exercise goes something like this: “I am afraid of what I don’t know about this impending problem, but problems always include uncertainties, and I am actually a learning machine… by the time I need to know the stuff that’ll solve this problem, I’ll have learned it, if anyone can.”
Yes, you are a dragon slayer. You tackle the world’s toughest stuff and make it look easy. You dream, and then turn that dream into reality in the face of withering criticism. You’re powerful. You are an entrepreneur in the world, creating something out of nothing, and not a victim. You don’t call 9-1-1, you ARE 9-1-1.
So count up your dead dragons, and then use your revitalized confidence to start a business, overhaul your own health, launch a project, create a work of art, whatever.
I pity that next dragon.
Inventory Your Accomplishments To Build Self-Confidence
by Michael D. Hume, M.S.