We can all think of many ways to increase self-confidence – improving health, improving skills and knowledge, setting a goal and accomplishing that goal. In other words, if we really distill what truly increases self-confidence, we’ll find that fundamentally it all comes down to action and learning.
Consider school –
In college, I applied much of what I learned to my every day situations. I took Accounting, and the next thing I knew, my budget and daily expenses were being tracked in Excel. Similarly, I took a Business Communication class that completely changed how I write personal emails. Also, two years of theatre classes greatly improved my posture, body language, and performance in the workplace.
Applied Learning Increases Confidence
This applied learning gave me more confidence in the material I was learning but also gave me more confidence in myself, my ability to implement, my ability to behave.
You’ve probably experienced the same type of applied knowledge through classrooms that made good use of lab time.
Experiential Education Infuses Learning into Experiences
Or maybe you have been a part of an experiential education experience (that’s a tongue twister). If you have ever done a youth group or team building activity and held a debrief thereafter, you might recall the power in being mindful of experience. Like applied learning, experiential education also makes good use of has as both action and learning.
This reciprocal relationship between action and learning is nothing new. In the book Co-Active Coaching, they mention that the responsibility of a life coach is to help the client forward action and deepen learning. In other words, this is the exact methodology that coaches and trainers use to propel us forward.
Without Mindfulness, There is No Learning
Over the years, I came to understand the key component to that learning that allows for the ability to apply the learning, mindfulness. Mindfulness looks like thoughtful communication, meditation, even prayer, upon those things that you are learning, so that it can be applied to your life and so you can grow from it.
With these two forces (action & learning) combined, you will get to your goals much more rapidly all while building more self-confidence along the way.
To help you with a crystal clear model in remembering the power of action and mindful learning, consider the following model:
The Kayak of Confidence
Imagine you are in a kayak.
Your kayak has a large paddle that is essentially two paddles joined in the middle.
One side represents action.
The other represents learning.
With the left side of your body you heave and you pull … Action. With the right side of you body you heave and you pull … Learning. Action. Learning. Action. Learning.
If you were to only paddle on one side, you will go in circles.
With both action and learning you go to YOUR destination.
This mental picture might help you see why you may (or may not) be making much progress toward your goals and highest aspirations.
Maybe you spend too much time on only one of these things.
Why action only fails
Action-only looks like: Busyness. In other words, you are getting caught up in the day to day. You have no forward momentum toward the life you really want.
Why learning only fails
Learning-only looks like: Inaction. This looks like a disconnect between what you are learning and what you are doing. Your mind is becoming fat on knowledge and your body is not flowing out what is coming into it because you fail to put things into practice.
Action Is Better When It’s Courageous
Wherever you are at, one easy way to implement a healthy way of looking at your life and progress toward your best YOU is to think “courageous action”. For example, instead of asking yourself, “What action do I need to take toward my annual goals?”, ask “What courageous action do I need to take toward my annual goals?”
Here is why. Action that beckons you to be courageous, carries with it an element of fear. The best way to get rid of fear is to get prepared. In other words, just by stepping up your action to a level of discomfort, you will want to prepare by learning.
Besides, all courageous actions are scary but also carry a sense of purpose. You become more heroic the more and more you think of yourself as doing courageous things. After all, Your best YOU is courageous. It’s action toward the things that you know you should do, even though it feel scary that can be deemed as courageous. It’s by doing this type of action that you can really earn true confidence. But if you are not mindful (learning) from it, you will won’t make as much progress in increasing your confidence than if you are mindful. So take action and learn in everything you do, this will increase self-confidence.