“Give me one moment in time, When I’m more than I thought I could be.” So goes the song famously sung by Whitney Houston.
Have you experienced moments of this kind? Moments where you were able to use your talents, and your true inner potential was shown to the world?
I’ve certainly had a few. For example, managing to land on solid ground at the end a paraglide up in the Alps. And, when much to my colleagues’ surprise, I came from behind to win a karaoke competition at an office social event.
Different people said the exact same thing to me after each of these events;
“Who knew you had it in you!”
What struck me here is that I did know I had it in me. The challenge I’d been given had reached inside and pulled my ability out for the world to see. The genuine expression of surprise got me thinking that many of us could tragically live without showing our inner talents simply because they lacked chances to shine or weren’t brave enough to reveal them to the world.
An interesting question is, why hadn’t others seen this side of me before these events? When judging others, we ask ourselves if they fit our version of normality, do they act, speak, dress and behave as we think they should? We make a split-second decision and categorise them accordingly. This judgement is mirrored onto our peers and consequently our version of ourselves is made up of a mix of who we think we are and who others think we are. This can result in us limiting what we put out to the world.
Opportunity and bravery
It is important for us as adult to recognise that to have any chance at changing this perception and tapping into our inner potential we need two things: opportunity and bravery. And this is something we need to teach our children.
Opportunity comes from an external source, unexpectantly. We may be caught on the hop or feel unprepared to take them on. The moment to seize the opportunity could pass us by leaving us with feelings of frustration and regret.
The big obstacle most people face when deciding to accept an opportunity is self-doubt. So how can you overcome this and allow your true potential to come to the fore? The solution lies in garnering inner strength so that you do face the situation and go for it. This is the second ingredient in the equation.
To this end it is worth remembering that our feelings can trace a pattern during the precious moments that Whitney Houston sang about. When you are attracted to an opportunity hope and enthusiasm will be the frontrunners. Self-doubt, however, is never far behind, stifling any courage that was beginning to surface. What is needed is to hold your nerve until you are through this rather awkward pattern of feelings.
Steps to take
The following may help to bravely accept opportunities that come our way;
- Ask yourself whether it’s fear of failure or success that is really playing on your mind.
- Take time to visualise a successful outcome, and the benefits that this event, project, new job or new business could lead to. How will your self-image improve as a result?
- Be brave enough to give the opportunity a go. It might not turn out as you anticipate but you’ll learn something in the process, and you’ve feel better for having tried.
- Keep a notebook of how you are feeling during the initial period of a new role. You will notice the pattern; the emergence of unease and self-doubt, gradually giving way to a more familiar experience. You can make use of this when taking on future opportunities.
- Learn from famous people do you admire in the world or business or sport or other areas of interest. Think of any struggles they may have had. Read autobiographies and learn from how they overcame challenges.
- Build on any positive experiences you have had in the past, no matter how small. List any struggles you had and how you overcame them. Note down how you mastered those tasks.
- When building confidence start small. You don’t have to set up a new company or take on the world to begin with. Volunteering at a local event such as parkrun can help garner inner strength in a low-risk environment where you will get support and encouragement.
Don’t hesitate. Take the opportunities that arise and let your talents get to work.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aine O’Neillis a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org