“Confidence is silent. Insecurity is loud”.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to do what I love to do; speak and encourage a group of people. It was at a Chamber event in our area. The room was packed and filled with good energy. At the end of every talk I like to give out a feedback form so I can learn what I can do to improve. On the feedback form, I always ask, “I made a decision today to: ___________” I ask this because I want to know if what I said made a difference, if there’s something the person is going to do as a result of the hour we just spent together. I also ask, “If you could ask Terry one question what would it be?”
As I was going through the feedback forms there was a question that stuck out to me, “How do you overcome insecurity?” That’s a great question. The answer is, “I’m not sure you ever do. I have been speaking for over 30 years to all types, sizes and ages of audiences. To this day I struggle with it. I still have moments of insecurity.
However, over the years, I believe I have learned where my insecurity comes from and how to deal with it.
When I focus on myself more than the people I am working with or speaking to.
When I focus on being a good speaker, funny, being liked, or having their approval, I feel insecure and anxious. What you focus on expands and the more I focus on me and how well I will do the worse it gets.
I can remember speaking to a high school audience about 28 years ago. It was a talk I had given before and was passionate about giving. I was brought in as the “All school assembly speaker” and as the gym was filling up I started thinking those thoughts, “Will they like me?”, “Will they think I’m funny?”, “Will they think I’m good?” I felt so insecure I walked over to a corner as the students were still coming in and said a prayer that I remember to this day. “God, if you get me through this, I promise I won’t do it anymore. Please help me.” I was so insecure at that moment I felt desperate. So much so I just wanted to get through it and never be put in that position again.
The assembly went well. I say that because of the feedback from the students, faculty and administration. They said “It helped them.” That is what I love to do. Help people. I believe God heard my prayer and reminded me that it wasn’t about me, it was about them. I didn’t have to quit doing what I love to do; I just needed to adjust my focus.
This is still a challenge to this day. As a matter of fact I had some of those same insecure thoughts and feelings the morning I did this talk and it was for the same reasons. I wish I could say I never focus on me before I give a talk, but that just wouldn’t be true.
So, how can you overcome insecurity?
Focus on others. No matter what you do, make it about others. Serve them, help them, and encourage them. At the end of the day this is what people need and anyone can do it if they want to.
About a year ago I was asked to be a part of a “Knowledge Bomb”. This was something that this company does twice a year. They bring speakers in for the entire day one after another. I was really looking forward to it and then I arrived. When I walked into the room I could see that most of the people there were in their twenties and a few in their early thirties.
Immediately I thought to myself, “I’m the wrong person for this group.” I could feel my insecurity getting stronger. “They won’t be interested in what I have to say.” The person that just finished did a talk titled, ‘What I’ve learned about leadership from The Walking Dead.” What a great title! It was much more current and interesting than mine. Notice how many times I said “I” or “mine”. I was totally focused on me.
This is when the feeling of insecurity begins to happen and it’s the clue I need, to listen to my self-talk. It’s now a habit I have before each presentation and training. This works for more than just speaking. I have since learned to use this for any and every situation where I find myself insecure. I know I must shift my focus.
When your thoughts go from “Will they like me?” to “What’s best for them?” or “What do they need?” your insecurity will fade and your confidence will grow.
What can you do focus on others?