This week I go even further back in my back catalogue to a time when I sent monthly and not weekly messages.

“Be humble, for the worst thing in the world is of the same stuff as you; be confident, for the stars are of the same stuff as you.”

(Nicholai Velimirovic)

One of the definitions I like about confidence is being comfortable in your own skin. There are things that you are good at, and things which sometimes you may not shine as much doing. To me, it’s all part of being human, nobody is perfect (remember even supermodels are airbrushed in photos). The difference is that you don’t have to feel bad about the things you may not yet shine at.

So often people have accepted the bits that they do not shine at but are unwilling to recognise or accept that there are other things where they excel. I have lost count the number of times when somebody has told me something that seems amazing to me but they don’t see it as anything special. I was talking to someone recently who told me that they were able to talk two languages fluently which to me is a fantastic achievement. Somebody else who suddenly mentioned that they had wrote a book but didn’t think that was noteworthy, not to mention being told by a third person that they are “just” a parent. It was only when these individuals started paying attention and allowing themselves to consider the possibility that just because they found something easy it did not make it any less special.

This month I invite you to play with paying attention to where and when you shine, as well as when you don’t. You don’t have to do anything with this information – just notice what is different and what happens.

  1. Divide a piece of paper into 4 equal sections
  2. In the first section write all the things that you are terrible at. This could be a list that you are used to focusing on and that’s ok. Everyone has something that will go in this section – possibly because you’ve not chosen to spend any time perfecting it or because you really don’t like doing it in the first place 
  3. In the next section list things that you are OK at but you wouldn’t say that you are good at.
  4. In the third section list all the things that you are good at.
  5. Section 4 is the one where you write the things that you are brilliant at. What is it that you find so easy to do that you can’t understand why others don’t too? (like speaking 2 languages)

Be aware that this is your list nobody else has to read it unless you want them to.

6. Sometimes people’s self-perception of what is brilliant and good for a particular thing is different to how they would define and apply it to someone else. Quite frankly, on this exercise that’s cheating, so starting in the first section take one thing from on your list and ask yourself “if I was watching someone else do this, how would I know that they were OK at it?” and “What behaviours would I see or hear?”

So, if you had written “giving presentations” in the first section, a definition of being ok could be that no-one ran out of the room crying. As a speaker they may have stumbled over a few things, but they made it to the end without causing a major life-threatening crisis (obviously this is far more likely in some roles than others – hostage negotiation for example in comparison to just a small team meeting).

Having defined what OK in that area is, check how you behave in relation to that. You’ll get more out of playing with this if you are actually honest with yourself. A definition of humility that I like is that “humility is being willing to accept that things may be other than the way you think they are.” So just for the purposes of this exercise I ask that you are humble enough to consider that you may just be better then you initially thought.

7. Repeat step 6 for everything in your first section.

Move anything into the second section that needs to be moved.

Repeat steps 6 and 7 with each of the following sections. So take what is in your OK section and check to make sure it doesn’t actually live in the good section. Make sure that the good section hasn’t got hidden brilliance in there.

Re-read your lists and add anything else on as they come to you throughout the month.

Bonus Tip:

This month notice how you respond when someone gives you a compliment – do you say thank you or do you try and deflect the attention. “This top? Oh I’ve had it years”, “It’s just part of being a Mum”, “I’m used to doing that with work”. If you catch yourself doing the latter that’s ok, stop and just say thank you.

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