You are braver than you believe

Today, we feature one of my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh quotes (actually, A.A. Milne, the author) today:

There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”               

                                                                 – A.A. Milne (from Winnie the Pooh) –

This quote speaks to self-confidence and belief in yourself.  Too many of us struggle simply because we are aren’t brave enough or don’t think we have the strength or intelligence to accomplish all that we’re capable.  Certainly, there are some with the opposite problem… over-confidence.  Both problems (lack of confidence and over-confidence) often result from a lack of self-awareness.  However, for today, let’s focus on the former… those with a lack of confidence.

I have witnessed many individuals in my nearly 61 years on earth that failed to achieve significant things in their life for one reason… they did not have the confidence in their own abilities to make it happen.  The chief difference in two individuals with the exact same education, background, abilities, and experience – where one becomes President of the company and the other remains a team member in a functional unit –  is often one thing… self-confidence.  There are several reasons why one individual lacks self-confidence and another does not.  Here are a few reasons I have seen:

  • Previous failures – “I messed up once and will never let that happen again.” – If Thomas Edison or Abraham Lincoln had felt that way, we would have never heard of them or their ultimate achievements!
  • Fear of failure – “I don’t want to let anyone down by messing up.” – You are more likely to let someone down by NOT taking a risk and going outside your comfort zone at least occasionally.
  • Low risk tolerance – “I will step out, but I want to be 100% sure before I do… of course, I’ll probably never be that confident.” – Why not be adventuresome and “go for it” when you get to 80% sure?
  • Comfort in “the rut” – “I like it right where I am, doing just what I’m doing.” – Some individuals will never be coaxed out of the rut.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but the fact is, many have that fear of stepping outside their comfort zone.  Thus, they keep some or much of their full potential hidden.  Back to Winnie-the-Pooh…

So, what is A.A. Milne saying to us today about confidence?  There are three key points to this quote:

  1. Braver than you believe – Most individuals have an innate fearlessness that can be developed.  For example, an individual with a fear of heights might have to crawl to the edge of the Grand Canyon on their first visit.  But, as they do it more and more, they can eventually walk to the edge and, perhaps, eventually run to the edge with confidence.  Courage in everyday life is much the same.  Consider public speaking (the more you do, the better you get) or changing a baby’s diaper (on second thought, maybe that never gets easy…).  Once we take that first step of courage, the next one becomes just a little bit easier.  Eventually, you become more comfortable taking a risk, speaking up, volunteering, using candor in a discussion, or making an important decision.  Most individuals have more courage (bravery) than they ever believed, but they must take that first step to exercise it.
  2. Stronger than you seem – Many individuals seem to have a challenge making their point, having their opinion heard, or having others believe in their abilities.  Others have not yet discovered the inner strength they have.  But, for others to see that strength, we must believe it exists and feel confident in our abilities to use it.  In short, we must believe that we can do more than we have ever shown before.  We must know that our opinion is important and our skills are sufficient.  We need to exhibit that inner strength that we know we possess.
  3. Smarter than you think – Why do many individuals continually feel that everyone else is smarter than them?  It is amazing what we are capable of accomplishing is we will simply know that we have the intelligence to make it happen.  You don’t have to always think you are the smartest person in the room, but you can believe that you have the same potential to contribute that anyone else in the room has.

Past failures are not a predictor of future successes.  It is time that we move forward out of our comfort zone and do what we know we are capable of doing.  Be brave, be strong, and be smart today.

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