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 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 with lots of experience 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 deeply felt passion and commitment to making myself the best person I can be so that I can lead Cultivate to the best of my abilities. However, I’m learning that this mold is not one 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 I have grown in my understanding of who I am as a leader, and my strengths and weaknesses. Every day I’m trying to strengthen my weaknesses, and grow in my strengths. 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 they are doing wonderfully and 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 their 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 creating a better world for others. They are leaders who are dedicated, passionate, and 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. I see so much in them that they cannot see for themselves. I’m constantly learning how to empathetically encourage and support them.

If you are struggling with confidence, or questioning your ability to do something in life that you feel you are really meant to do, hang in there.  I’m hanging in, and so can you. Let’s help one another and others around us 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