As a person who is about as sensitive as it is possible to be, and also lacking in confidence, I have often worried that I’m too shy to be a leader. Is it possible for somebody like me to stand up and lead the way for others? Can I possibly inspire other people? Or would it just be best for me to keep in line and keep my mouth shut?
I think that this feeling that I cannot lead stems from the fear that I cannot possibly have anything worth hearing. It’s a total lack of confidence in myself and what I stand for and I’m sure that there are a tonne of other people out there that feel the same way about themselves.
Where does this lack of confidence come from?
I’m no psychiatrist but I’ve had enough therapy to know that it comes from childhood. I grew up always being told to keep in line. I was an athlete so I had a very strict and structured lifestyle and I just learnt to do as I was told. And I was also told that you can’t be a shy leader.
I’m not saying that this was bad or that it damaged me in any way. My parents were incredibly loving and gave me everything I needed. And my sports gave me an incredible amount of discipline that has helped me later in life. But it also taught me to just shut up and follow instructions.
What I wish somebody would have told me?
So it’s all very easy saying that this all stems from childhood, but how do I fix it? I want to become a leader. I know that I have so much to say and to give and I can’t give it from my place in the audience. What do I do?
The first thing to remember is that a place in the audience is not a bad place to be. It’s the place where you learn from others and the place where you join forces with others to make something great as a team.
But, sometimes stepping up on to stage is necessary and you need to know that you are capable of doing it. It is a scary place to be because all eyes are on you, but you need to tell yourself what you should have been told when you were a child.
I wish that somebody had told me that my voice does matter. Because it really does. Even if I feel like I have nothing to say, I actually have a whole lifetime of experiences that could help another if I just had the courage to step up to the microphone. Even if my voice is shaky and uncertain, there will be at least a handful of people who will need to hear it.
Do our insecurities make us shy and unable to lead?
I have always suffered from anxiety and in my twenties I used alcohol to numb it. My alcoholism was always something that I was deeply ashamed of and it made me put the brakes on every time I started to excel at something. But what if I could use this part of my story to boost my own confidence and that of others?
Having had some time to reflect on everything that happened in my twenties, I have realised that my difficulties could actually help me to be a better leader. People can relate to that pain and that struggling and it helps me to relate to them. And being relatable is one of the best things a leader can be. It’s not all about being loud and gobby. It’s about having something important to say, that can help people, and can inspire them.
So, next time you are thinking you aren’t good enough, or your past is too shameful or isn’t epic enough for people to want to follow you, remember that those bumps in the road are the thing that will make you a great leader.
Confidence is all you need and it only comes from really knowing where you come from and really believing that none of it can stand in your way. I believe that any one of you can get up there and inspire others. It’s just a case of finding your tribe and the cause that really sets your heart on fire. I wish you luck in finding it because I know that it will lift such a weight off your shoulders and that is something that everybody deserves.