Confidence = Humility (?)

It takes a certain kind of person to be able to start a business and achieve success. Obviously it requires significant levels of discipline, organization, creativity, and focus. But beyond the initial brilliant idea(s) — to put your money [and time and energy] where your mouth is and to get an idea to materialize into a business, you need both tremendous confidence and* humility.

Every day, I learn firsthand, how difficult it is to maintain confidence and humility. But embodying both qualities is critically important to my personal welfare, and subsequently, to the success of my business.

Confidence

You must be confident in the idea/product/service you have to offer. You must be confident in your own ability to deliver quality work. You must be confident in the work of your teammate(s). You must. Otherwise, how can you invest your time, money, and energy into the endeavor!

Confidence cannot be mistaken for arrogance or pride. Confidence is not about coming out on top or acting like you will come out on top. Rather, confidence is the perspective from which you can see all things clearly when you are standing firmly on honest and accurate knowledge of your strengths AND weaknesses. From that place of clarity, it is easier to recognize potential obstacles, solutions, innovations, and opportunities. It requires this sort of confidence to have a truly committed heart and a solid work ethic.

Because success takes time…and a lot of little pieces. Thoughts here and there, tiny optimizations, impromptu conversations that maybe turn into serious discussion, hours and hours and hours of going back to the drawing board to work out the details and then iron out the wrinkles. And if you’re not firmly planted in the confidence of your offering and your team, the grueling little things will drain you. The commitment you have to make to start something can quickly become overwhelming… and lead to disappointment, bitterness, and frustration… slowing your momentum… until you burn out.

If your idea/product/service is not there yet, there is time — dedicate time to revise/re-think it. Not that you need a perfect and fully formed 10-year-plan for success, but it is worth spending more time to make sure the foundation of your business is strong enough to support the weight of your dedication.

Humility

All that said, it is just as important to be humble. You need to be able to regard the advice of others. It’s easy for us to accept tips from articles and gather insight from reddit. And of course these sources of information are very important as well! The hard part is swallowing the advice/help from people you know… people whose opinions and thoughts weigh on your life… people you care about…

Humility is not about being a pushover or advocating self-deprecation. Humility is wholly acknowledging your vulnerability, admitting it, and being okay with it. In fact, in the sense that this also requires honest and accurate self-awareness and self-evaluation, humility doesn’t look too different from confidence.

Throughout college I heard people telling me that I don’t know how to ask for help and I thought…. that’s preposterous because I ask for help all the time! It wasn’t until recent years that I realized I defined “asking for help” as “knowing how to delegate responsibilities.” I still stand by the fact that I can delegate responsibilities well. But that’s not what people were saying. They meant that when I was truly vulnerable, when my inadequacy could possibly be exposed, when the answers weren’t clear to me — that I would ask for help KNOWING that my helplessness would be seen. I didn’t do that. I was NEVER going to let myself do that. I would rather google for as long as it took and fumble through it piece by piece for days on end than admit that at my BEST ATTEMPT I couldn’t figure it out.

But once I let go of my reputation to get a firm grip on my personal goals, so many more doors opened for me. My priorities shifted. My strategy changed. My reputation is a consequence of the things I do. But now I have the freedom to move without my pride shackling me down.

Basically,

People who are honest with themselves are able to see themselves accurately… and if they can accept what they see they will be successful

  • because they will not feel the need to prove themselves to others, RATHER, their effort and focus will go straight toward achieving their goals
  • because they will not be distracted or discouraged by the success of others, RATHER, they will relish their unique identity and celebrate the welfare of their neighbors [and subsequently expand their network!]
  • because they will not waste time disappointed in the things they don’t have or can’t do, RATHER, they will focus on what is possible and creatively navigate new challenges
  • because they will not expend any energy and brain power trying to hide their failure or feign superiority, RATHER, they will ask the appropriate channels for help, solve the problem, and move on
  • and finally, because after recognizing these things, when other people do [inevitably] try to belittle them or diminish their joy, they will recognize that it’s because a lot of other people struggle to know themselves accurately and honestly. They will not become injured by the misinformed ways of other people and MAYBE (hopefully) they will share what it means and what it takes to embody confidence and humility.

so driving a start-up, achieving success… or actually… doing anything, requires both: confidence & humility