There’s something about putting yourself out there that can make the most confident person uneasy and build confidence in someone who didn’t have it before. It’s like a two-sided mirror that shows you exactly what you need to see when you need to see it.
In the movie Gladiator, Russell Crowe’s character Maximus Decimus Meridius was forced into slavery after being a loyal general to the emperor. He was thrown into tournaments in the Coliseum where he had to fight his way out while people cheered with excitement.
It was entertainment to them, but it was do-or-die for him. He had to “win the crowd” in order to survive. In a classic moment when Maximus defeated the opposing gladiators, he shouted to the observers, “Are you not entertained!?!”
While your life may not place you in a Roman Coliseum fighting gladiators (thank goodness!), growing your career can feel like something between a battle and a performance.
Want a job? You need to put your best face on. Want a raise? You need to buckle up and show you deserve it. Want to stand out on LinkedIn? You need to have a better brand than the next person.
Challenges that come with the territory can either build or chip away at your confidence. It’s like being pulled onto a stage where the background goes dark and all eyes are piercing through you as you squint from the spotlight abruptly spilling across your face. You feel like everyone is thinking, “Huh, let’s see how this turns out. Grab the popcorn!”
It’s like somehow you involuntarily signed up to be the entertainment for those who are decision-makers or those who may not want to see you succeed. You will be judged. You will be criticized. You will be doubted. And sometimes your biggest opponent will be yourself.
But here’s the thing: Observers will always do just that…observe. Their opinions are not your problem though; it shouldn’t make or break your confidence. You already know there’s more to life than being a bystander. That’s why you put yourself out there even when it’s more appetizing to lounge on your couch and watch back to back shows on the Investigation Discovery channel only moving for bathroom breaks. (Not saying that I’ve done that or anything.)
You will continue to push through because stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy, but neither is staying in it.
It’s about landing that job. Passing that exam. Getting that promotion. Starting your own business. And it’s also about trying again when things don’t go your way the first time. Because that’s a part of the game too.
Your journey is not about being anyone’s entertainment. It’s about proving to yourself that you can do whatever the hell you say you will do.
Now, go do it.
Photo Credit: Dreamworks