Self-confidence is an ideal balance of trusting our own abilities and judgement, and having humility and earnestly learning from others. Consider the example of a finely tuned guitar. Even if 5 strings are perfectly in tune and only one string is out of tune, the resulting sound when you strum all the strings will cause a sound that just doesn’t sound good to the ears. One trait out of harmony can cause our personal growth to slow or even be stunted. We all know the person that thinks they already possess everything they need to know. Some of us have teenagers that would be considered under this category. We also know that person who is full of potential, but simply has no confidence in themselves. When we are constantly growing and learning, we are also building our experience and knowledge. Which, in turn, leads to the perfect balance of self-confidence.
I have found that throughout my life, my own personal growth has been stunted on more than one occasion. The thing I struggle with in my life is criticism. I don’t like to be told that I am doing things wrong. Part of that comes from my strong inner desire to please people. It has been a real roadblock for me at different points in my life. I can think back on times my parents, other family members, teachers, and friends have given me advice, but I was too proud to follow it. It cost me big time on more than one occasion. If I could have listened a little better and not been in the mindset that I knew better than what they were telling me, I would be a lot better off today.
I can also think back on some opportunities I had in my life, but did not do them or go after them because I was scared and lacked the confidence to think I could succeed in those opportunities. I allowed opportunities to pass me by because I was scared. I am not saying that I regret where I am now, in life, because I don’t. I am right where I am for a reason, but I could have had some additional great experiences along the way if I had only had a little more self-confidence.
So what are the habits that encourage and produce a balanced life?
Here are four habits that I think are the most critical:
If you’ve ever spent time in the military or around people who have been, you will quickly learn the importance of personal discipline. In my case, I learned the same types of things through my experience with playing college football. The entire chain of command depends on starting with the basics. This includes sleep habits, detailed planning and scheduling, and organization. Procrastination should become a foul word to you. As a creative type, that’s the most difficult thing for me. Push yourself to master the things that are most difficult for you. The overall goal of personal discipline is to eliminate waste, the same as you would if building a family budget. If you get the proper rest, schedule and plan ahead, and organize your day-to-day properly, you’ll be shocked at what you get accomplished.
My wife, Stephanie is one of the most successful and balanced people I know. She pulls off being a mom, a wife, and having a major career better than anyone I know. How? She’s outstanding at personal discipline and setting priorities. She doesn’t waste time and effort on fantasy and the frivolous. Her priorities are family first, work/responsibility, and quality of life, in that order. Most importantly, she keeps God in the center of all things. Her faith determines her ethics and priorities.
The Right Attitude
Attitude is so important to balance and success. Ideally, our attitudes should lean heavily towards the positive, with a good dose of sober reality, humility, and confidence. We don’t want to be so overly positive that we lose the ability to understand things as they really are. Sober reality is seeing your abilities with vivid clarity. It is about knowing what you aren’t so great at. For instance, not everyone can sing will. No amount of positive thinking is going to change that. If we evaluate ourselves with clarity, it brings forth our strengths even greater because we’ve eliminated where we would be wasting our efforts. Our optimism is then raised. We need to learn to see both sunshine and storms as opportunities.
Get Out of the Comfort Zone
Getting into life ruts brings on the feeling of mundane boredom and stagnation. To avoid feeling rigid and trapped, we have to get out of the places we feel comfortable and try new experiences. This can be accomplished in the many ways our creative minds lead us. Read new things. Start a conversation with someone different from you. Volunteer to help the poor. Try speaking in public. This is where our “quality of life” is nurtured. Being a parent for the first time has taken me way out of my comfort zone. It turned my former life upside down and changed everything. I was scared to death as I saw it coming, but in the midst of all the change, I have come to know life through my son. What I have experienced has opened up my world to the possibilities of what life can be like. It has brought my world to a level I was not even aware of before him. Sometimes to experience the life we were meant to live, we just have to get out of our own way.