May 2, 2016 by Stephen Bentley
Self Development Articles: Confidence
This is another summary in the series of summaries of self development articles.
You can view all the previous summaries in the series by clicking on this category link.
Today’s Self Development Article – Confidence
For today’s article I return to Umair Haque. This article of his appeared on Medium titled What Confidence Is (And How to Find It) – What It Really Means to “Be Yourself.”
Favorite Quote from the Author In the Article
Summary of the Article
Haque deals with the subject of confidence and starts off telling the reader that he wasn’t always confident. He informs us that the thing that changed him was being at “death’s edge” and having lost sense of ego.
“Confidence is the most natural thing in the world. It is the removal of blockages, obstacles, and hurdles to being yourself,” he adds.
He opines that confidence is something we always possessed and thus it is not a thing we can lose. Yet, he tells us that we search for confidence in knowledge, in books, and he calls that an “illusion.” And he offers the opinion that “[T]he act of trying to be confident, assured, proud, perfect, cheats us of confidence.”
Haque then writes about discovering our “self-awareness” that leads to “the removal of all the blockages that stop you from being yourself.”
Reading Time of the Article
About the Author and Lessons Learned From The Article
Umair Haque is a British based author and economist and a London-based consultant. He is director of Havas Media Lab, founder of Bubblegeneration and frequent tweeter and contributor to the online Harvard Business Review. Haque’s initial training was in neuroscience. He studied at McGill University in Canada, went on to do an MBA at London Business School and is the author of The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business (2011).
As usual from this author, it is a well written and well constructed essay. The main lesson of this piece is the highlighting of the importance of self-awareness. Without that vital ingredient, no one will find it easy on the road to personal development.
I prefer it when Haque makes his points simply. For example, he writes “[T]hat is all confidence is. The removal of all the blockages that stop you from being yourself.” Easy to understand and follow.
There are some flowery passages in this article that don’t cut any ice with me. I intended no pun but he uses a flower metaphor when writing “We think confidence is like a rare, fragile flower, which, if we can just coax, manage, convince, persuade, to blossom, then the world will notice it. So we must protect it, shield it, from the wind and the rain. So we cup our hands around it. Maybe we build a fortress around it. But that way, the world never sees it.” He returns to the flower metaphor several times.
In any event I am unconvinced that most people see confidence, or a lack of, as something to coax, manage, convince or persuade. Do people really want the world to notice”it”? The “it” being the confidence. I’m not sure that is the case.
As an adult, self awareness has to be one of the first steps people take to discover what we call confidence. True self awareness lead to us becoming comfortable within our skin, with our true selves. If we are comfortable with ourselves then the rest will follow.
Or to borrow from Haque’s metaphor – plant the seed of self awareness then watch confidence grow. After all, isn’t lack of confidence a doubt about oneself?
The author says that we always possessed confidence. I assume he is talking about us when we were born. If that is the case, then he is probably correct. But, there are many children who have confidence knocked out of them for many reasons. Surely it must follow that Haque’s analysis leans towards the simplistic.
Indeed, his analysis is flawed when he writes, “[W]hen we truly see our anxieties and fears and worries for what they are, illusions, tricks, fantasies, they begin to disappear, do they not?”
Try telling an adult lacking confidence who was traumatized as a child, that his or her anxieties, worries and fears are illusions, tricks, fantasies.
I speak from personal experience. If you suffer from shyness or social anxiety brought on by a lack of confidence, then you may want to check this out here.
In the meantime, stick to economics Umair!
I recommend the read. It is an interesting argument and put together coherently. Yet, I remain to be convinced of the merits of the argument.
This is a further post in what has become a series about self development. The idea is that I take an article or perhaps a video or an infographic and summarize what it really means. I have always been a believer in self development even before it became trendy!
Shucks I even write about self development in my About page! And if you need to know more then please check out my Personal Development page. Self development? Personal Development? C’est la même chose!
If you have a thirst for information like me then I can help. I believe I have found part of the solution through Blinkist. It is an app that if used properly can be a tremendous aid to self development.
One of the advantages of me going through many hurdles of trying to create and improve myself in my retirement is that I have discovered things that work. Things that aid productivity.
Self Development and Blinkist
One of those things that aid productivity is Blinkist.
The aim of this series is to summarize to you articles that I believe assist in self development. Damn it! More than that – help you achieve, be a better person. Blinkist does that too. It will give you a synopsis of excellent books written by experts in their respective fields.
It helps you work smarter and be smarter! It is an aid to self development.
Formal Education vs Self Development
Indeed, I am a great believer in self development. Formal education can only teach you so much. The rest is up to you. Learning is within the capacity of all. We do it as soon as we leave the womb and it should be a continuous process. You are never too old to learn.
Through my passage in life, I feel qualified to pass on my wisdom about self development. I feel so strongly about it that I intend to eventually offer one to one consultations to help anyone who is prepared to listen. Listening and learning are the easy bits. You as an individual have to implement those lessons. No one can do it except you!
You can be the most intelligent person on earth but without self- awareness and self development then you run the risk of stagnating. Even worse, you could go backwards.
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