A lot has been said and written about self-confidence.
It is not only one of the three dimensions of our Confidenship™ model: it is the foundation from which the two others (confidence in the other, confidence in life) can grow.
Confidence is like a mirror
- The more I feel I am trustworthy the more I will act in a way that eventually builds trust.
- The more confidence I have in myself , the more able I am to place my confidence in the ‘other’.
- The more confidence I have in « myself and others », the more I can ‘let go’ and place my confidence in life.
But what does self-confidence mean? How to nurture it ? What relationship exists between self-confidence and self-esteem? And how does it support personal fulfillment?
In this article I will introduce a powerful metaphor that I am using in Confidenship™ training courses and group practices to illustrate these concepts. I’ve built this metaphor from my own experience as a coach and consultant, as well as from research from Stephen MR Covey (The speed of trust) and W.Schutz (the Human Element). Given the depth of the subject, my purpose today is not to explain all aspects of the metaphor (many posts would be necessary) but to give a general overview of it.
The metaphor is based on the tree, seen as a natural and complex system. The tree grows from the soil; It has roots, a trunk, branches, leaves, fruit…
Above the soil surface lies what’s visible (our behaviors), and below what’s not visible (our inner world)
The roots: Self consciousness
The same as the roots connect the tree with the richness of the soil and allow it to grow, our ability to become more self-conscious is the starting point of the Confidenship™ journey. It is about becoming intimate with our inner truth : emotions, sensations, thoughts, values and motivations.
The soil: Self image
The tree grows from fertile soil. So does confidence. It represents the image we have of ourselves. Using Schutz ‘Human Element’, it is built from three distinct judgements : the extent to which we see ourselves as important, competent and lovable.
The base of the trunk: Integrity
Integrity is a synonym for alignment between our behavior and our inner truth. As such it is an essential ingredient for confidence, to the same extent that the base of the trunk will dramatically influence how straight the tree will grow and how tall it will become.
The trunk: The Intention
The quality of our intentions have an enormous impact on how we feel about ourselves and how people feel about us a trustable person. By quality I mean for instance the extent to which we are actively searching from synergy (or win/win) in any relationship.
The branches: The Competences
Leaves and fruit need branches to develop, and in the same way developing one’s own competences is essential to the foundation of self-confidence.
The leaves and fruit: The Results
In the same way that branches would have no function if they didn’t allow leaves and fruit grow, developing competences would lack meaning if disconnected from the idea of achieving results. Self-confidence grows by consistently achieving results.
Self-esteem is a sentiment, self-confidence an energy, self-fulfillment a consequence
Going deeper into the concepts and the metaphor…
Self-esteem is a sentiment. It is about how we feel about our image of ourselves. When the feeling is positive and healthy, it provides nourishing soil from which the tree grows. When negative, the soil is poor and limits the growth potential and affects all relationships.
Self-confidence is an energy. As such it can be compared to the sap of the tree. Tapping into the nourishing soil (self-esteem), we find the vital energy that allows the trunk (intentions), the branches (competences) and the leaves (results) to develop. The tree grows from the double effect of the sap (confidence) and photosynthesis (recognition & feedback) in a virtuous loop that further enriches the sap (confidence) as well as the soil (esteem).
Self-fulfillment (a magnificent century old tree) is the consequence of continuous growth made possible by the vital energy of confidence (sap), itself being ‘produced, enriched and recycled’ from healthy soil (self-esteem), deep roots (self-consciousness), a good trunk base (integrity), a solid and straight trunk (intention), large branches (competencies) and beautiful leaves (results).
Last but not least, the metaphor works in exactly the same way whether the tree is an individual, a team or an organization.
But more posts will be needed for this…