I remember a wise friend once sharing that Self-Confidence comes from doing things that you are good at. Still true today, positive psychology research suggests appreciating your strengths, and that can come from others but most importantly, from yourself.
I watched my young niece Amaani growing up. I remember in her formative years how she was shy about speaking in front of a group or requesting something of others. Over the years, my sister took her to dance classes, which she found she was naturally good at. The result was monumental not only for her ability to stand in front of an audience but for her Self-Confidence throughout school. Recently, she participated in the Model United Nations from Toronto and delivered her school graduation speech!
It didn’t have to work out this way. What if Amaani’s talents were not recognized or appreciated by her family support or school environment? Or worse, what if she said to herself that this was the only thing that she would ever be good at, that maybe it wouldn’t last or that it was only because of her trainer?
Instead, she began to recognize her own strengths and capabilities. As Daniel Goleman says, “we have to believe in our skills in order to use them at our best.” In his model, Self-Confidence looks only at strengths, while in the EQ-i 2.0, Self-Regard underlines accepting both your strengths and challenges. Both models agree on the importance of accurately knowing your abilities.
As for my wise friend’s advice, I consequently embarked on a life of public speaking. During my recent two years in Asia Pacific, I observed that some Toastmasters clubs in Hong Kong emphasize speaker weaknesses. And they state them as such, as opposed to opportunities. Challenging myself with advanced manuals Humorously Speaking and The Entertaining Speaker, I found that recognizing my own abilities became my most critical success factor. I would take a balanced approach to feedback while actively working on opportunities.
As my Self-Confidence grew and I learned the art of storytelling, I was eventually recognized by my club with the Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB) Award. I will always remember that evening for the kind words and warm feedback of my Toastmaster peers! And most importantly, it felt like an amazing speaking milestone!
Photo: Salim Ladak receives Toastmasters ACB Award with President Eunice Su in Hong Kong on July 2nd, 2015