Well it seems that my post on Control has been great for starting insightful conversation. After writing it it really made me think about how I handle myself and got a friend of mine doing some self exploration also. This is great, I need to do more posts like that. I love taking about this stuff. What makes us tick, or crack as it may be.
Since this conversation did not take place on the blog I have asked my friend to allow me post the conversation.
My friend wrote...
I'm probably going to blog about this, but I've been thinking a lot lately about your self confidence entry and the Hack Yourself letter. I've always had challenges with my self esteem and have only learned, over the last several years, how to overcome that at times and especially how disruptive it can be in my personal and professional life. What I've been wondering about folks like you and my boss, and the guy who wrote Hack Yourself--people who exude self confidence--is whether you ever are at a low point yourself. Do you ever find that you are not performing optimally and are letting your behavior be adversely affected by a temporary lull in your self confidence? I mean, it's one thing to have a history of low self esteem. It's another to read stuff like Hack This and your blog entry and start thinking things that don't help me like, "man, I'm such a loser--these people don't let anything get in their way!" Am I making any sense here?
So my response was...
Yes you are making sense. I am glad you feel I "exude self confidence" and I guess most of the time I do. But really sometimes it's more show that substance. Not to say I don't have plenty of substance, but I've learned to fake the confidence when needed and as the situation pans out I grow into it. This allows opportunity to continue to come my way, even it I don't necessarily feel ready for it. One thing I have always done is keep my head down and work hard and pretend I know what I am doing until I really know what I am doing. It's been my way of hiding my flaws, but are they really flaws or do I just see them as that? Certainly my ability to spot lack of confidence in others is due to my own bouts with it. My post was an effort to allow the readers see it in themselves and get on with it. It's frustrating to me to sit and watch without a real way to effect change for others.
I believe most us have that little voice of self doubt in their heads, and of course carry mental baggage of things that have hurt us in the past, but it's important to see in ourselves the strengths that others see. I've been lucky to be in positive nurturing environments both at home and work, it has really allowed me to come into who I am and be confident.
To answer the question have I let low moments effective my behavior and productivity, certainly. But more in my younger days and I guess I did so much of it then that I really try not to allow it now. :) Again, it's this practice that allows me to see it in others. Now if I am on a low point I let it ride a bit and if it doesn't turn around I start faking it and sooner or later, usually sooner, I get back on good note. It's like smiling, even if you're not in the the mood to smile when you start, it actually makes you feel better and then you find yourself smiling without making an effort.
My friend's response...
Thanks again. I love this kind of discourse. It's great to learn a little about what makes people tick.
I guess my perspective goes right back to the topic of your original entry on this--control. By my count, I'm not so hot at faking anything. I tend to be brutally honest most of the time. Most people who know me well will attest to this--most of the time the examples they site are the times when I come right out and tell a person what I think regardless of how it might sound or how the subject might take it. People who don't know me at work or home usually find this amusing at least and admirable at most. My problem is that the longer I know you or the more often I'm around you, the more often I take the opportunity to "set you straight." This is when some people get to see how abrasive I can be. It doesn't stop here. Get me into a debate or an argument and, sometimes, I lose control. Now, this mostly depends on my mood and my mood is usually not directly related to the topic at hand. I am also very rarely aware of my mood or how it might effect my behavior until it's a bit too late. I won't go into the details of what happens when I lose control. It's usually embarrassing on some level and I almost always end up apologizing to someone very soon afterwards (another quality that most people who get to know me tend to appreciate).
The thing is that a lot of this stuff gets summed up as me being a bit moody or passionate--when I discuss this with the people who accept me, they say that they know that that's just "David being David." Even when I find myself apologizing, people tell me not to worry about it. . .I guess I always come back to the fact that most of the actual behavior is related to my need to be taken seriously and for my thoughts and feelings to be respected. If my confidence is low at the moment, I'm likely to believe that I'm being brushed off or disrespected--even if all that is happening is that someone is disagreeing with me. Even when people tell me I don't need to apologize or say they know that that's just the way I am, internally, I take that as being brushed off--people should accept compliments and apologies more appropriately!
So, I guess, as I mature too, I understand all of this about myself even better and, hopefully, I gain more control over my behavior. The thing that I still feel in the dark about is how other people, especially those who seem so successful, happy and "with it", maintain the control necessary to keep their feet out of their mouths. It seems as though these people must have a balance in their lives of the sort that will always be out of my reach. I guess the key here is that it only seems this way and, of course, only when I'm not feeling the most confident. Also, I suppose if I knew everything about how these people manage, they'd have no privacy and there'd be no point in getting to know them.
Oh I've certainly put my foot in my mouth - that's always fun :( , not to mention embarrassing. The last time was at work with someone really pushing on me, really just pushing buttons with a fever and I was letting him. During the discourse I yelled across the office at my beloved assistant, who was with an outside vendor at the time ( I unfortunately did not realize this), and to say the least made an ass out myself. It was really not a good moment. I still apologize profusely to her about this incident to this day.
I have seen the owner of my company, who I admire greatly, lose it on occasion. So we all may lose it, but control is certainly the key. I really hope I don't allow myself to be pushed that out of control again, and pray I spot the warning signs and remove myself from the conversation before it happens.
You play a dangerous game, as I guess I have with my original post. People don't always want to hear what your opinion is if it reflects negatively against them, but I understand the need to let them know. Most of the time I keep my mouth shut, unless of course it's in a work situation where it is my job to observe and comment to employees and their managers. But in the social group, if you ask me I'll tell you, but otherwise I'll keep it to myself or blog about it. :)