How Can I Be Confident?

One of my biggest struggles as a leader is confidence. I question whether I am capable of being the kind of leader that Cultivate needs me to be, and whether I can live up to the challenges that are before me.

I have this picture in my head that a change-maker, an entrepreneur or a non-profit leader needs to fit a certain kind of mold. A mold that looks a lot like an older man who has lots of experienced and networks, and who understands what it’s like to do this sort of work. I don’t come into this with a lot of experience, but I come with a deep felt passion and commitment to making myself the best person that I can be so that I can lead Cultivate as best as I can. But I’m learning that this mold is not one that I want to fit into. I am a unique leader with a unique set of experiences, abilities, and passions. So I need to learn to find confidence in that.

But there are days I wake up and question my abilities. I question my ability to do everything that needs to be done, to have the wisdom to lead well, and achieve success for Cultivate, and even more importantly, to impact all the communities and people who are relying on us.

Confidence doesn’t grow overnight, and I know that I have grown in my understanding of who I am as a leader, and my strengths and weaknesses. Every day I’m trying to make my weakness is a little bit stronger and my strengths even better. I realize that if I met someone like me in the same situation, I would give that person so much more grace than I give myself.  I would tell that person that they are doing wonderfully and that they have accomplished so much. That they do have the skills, abilities and everything needed to be able to do this well.  Yet somehow I can’t tell myself that. Why are we so much more critical of ourselves than we are of others?

I’m also learning to be grateful for this phase in my life. A great leader is someone who is deeply empathetic, who takes her struggles and experiences and uses it to encourage others. If I have not walked up and down the road of waning confidence and self-doubt, how can I support others who struggle with the same things?

Our trainees are change-makers who are making this world a better place for others. They are dedicated, passionate, and leaders worth following. But so often as I mentor them and support them, I see their self-doubt and lack of confidence start to come through. They question their abilities to do what is needed for their communities. Often I see so much in them that they cannot see for themselves. So I’m learning to empathetically encourage and support them.

So if you’re struggling with confidence, if you’re struggling with questioning your ability to do something in life that you feel you’re really called to, hang in there.  I’m hanging in, and so can you. Let’s help one another and others through this struggle. Share with others what you’re struggling with, find your community, and let us see how we can help each other out.

-Elaine, Executive Director