Use power and confidence to build resilience

Children singing

Resilience isn’t just about weathering stuff.

It’s about tapping into your strengths and figuring out what actions you can take to change your situation.

Being able to impact your circumstances, even in small ways, is one way to feel like you have a little more control.

And all that is fueled by having a sense of personal power and the confidence to exercise that power.

What does it look like when you don’t have personal power?

That’s when you let others bring out the worst in you with their actions. So for example, you let someone else’s negative response to a situation at work affect how your whole day goes.

You give your power away when you let others decide who you are and what you’re all about.

Exercising your personal power makes you feel like you have mastery over your circumstances. You feel like you have the skills and the knowledge to influence your situation.

Confidence is where you take that personal power and use it to take risks.

When someone trusts you with a task or challenges you with an interesting project, they’re giving you the vehicle to demonstrate your power with your skills and experience.

But you have to be willing to take the action and walk it all the way through.

So confidence is really a behavior.

But we treat it like an emotion we experience. We even articulate it that way.

“I don’t FEEL confident about my test tomorrow.”

Confidence about a test is less about feeling and more about how prepared you are.

And how do you prepare for a test?

You use flashcards, you study a little every day, you drill yourself on your knowledge of the subject.

You perform behaviors that will put you in place for the best possible outcome.

Like all behaviors, confidence is first affected by your beliefs and the emotions that stem from those beliefs.

By choosing what we believe about ourselves and what we choose to act on, we can influence our confidence.

So personal power and confidence is something you give yourself every day with the actions you choose to take.

Here’s something that happened to me in the third grade that maybe illustrates this. When I was in the third grade, I tried out for my elementary school choir. I come from a musical family so I knew I had the skills to get in.

So I was pretty shocked when my music teacher didn’t pick me.

I don’t remember her explaining why. I just remember feeling confused.

I mean, it’s the THIRD GRADE. How exclusive do we need to be here? It’s not like we were airing our performances on network TV here.

At about the same time, I had an opportunity to try out for a community choir in our town.

This was definitely a more prestigious outfit, with students from all over our entire school district, even the private schools.

Those guys were good.

There was definitely a chance I wasn’t getting in.

But I don’t remember dwelling on that.

What I remember is practicing the audition music every day.

My mom, who is a singer and classically trained pianist, worked with me every day to help me get ready.

On the day of the audition, I simply had a task to perform. Sure, I was a little nervous but not about getting in.

I simply wanted the performance to go well because I knew I was capable of it. I’d already done the work.

So I walked in with that power and placed myself in a situation where the outcome could really go either way.

There was a risk that I wouldn’t meet the criteria they were looking for.

But I had done enough work before the audition to feel comfortable taking that risk.

I was confident.

I don’t want to leave you hanging. I got in.

And I stayed in that choir until I aged out in the 7th grade. I learned music theory, made some great friends and learned how to perform in front of an audience.

I’m glad I didn’t miss all that.

But I would have missed all that if I hadn’t trusted what I knew I could do and placed myself in a situation where I might fail.

So instead of allowing that music teacher to make the decision for me about my musical skill, — taking away my power — I dug in and learned even more.

The outcome of that audition didn’t matter as much as the power and confidence I gained from the experience.

But it was pretty cool that I got in.

Instead of letting others influence how you respond to your situation, focus on your strengths and all of the experience you bring to the table.

Get in there and learn. Lean in to the experience and really develop your skills.

Then use that power to put yourself out there in a way that honors your journey.

That’s resilience all day long.