As someone teaches others how to live with more meaning and joy, and wrote a book on the same topic.
I get asked a lot how do we even begin the journey?
Most people start this journey by searching for their passion and purpose, sounds like a natural step, isn’t it?
So people always get surprised when I tell them the journey begins with their perception of themselves.
Instead of focusing on passion only, I encourage them to connect with their unique strengths – who they are at their best.
Why is this important?
When people start seeking more meaning in their life, it normally means there is a void in their life.
Our instinct is to fill that space immediately.
Some people hope it’s the relationship, and others hope it’s a more passionate and fulfiling job, career or business.
There has got to be something, right?
But how we deal with one thing is how we deal with everything.
Often talented and ambitious individuals chase external goals so hard that it is this very behaviour led them to lose joy in the first place.
The feeling that comes with the never-ending chase is pleasurable, yet ever so fleeting that they rarely feel fulfilled for long.
When we use the same attitude to pursue our passion, when we end up turning our passion into another goal that could fill our void, a lot of people end up killing their passion prematurally.
Passion is relatively easy to find.
I have worked with a lot of people over the years, and I can tell you I have rarely met one person who can’t tell me what their passion is.
In fact, a majority of people can precisely tell me what they would like to do with their passion or what their ideal life looks like.
Doing it and succeeding in it is a different story.
I had the same experience when I first started this journey.
I knew I was interested in about half a dozen things, and after some experiment, I zoned into one.
But I couldn’t stick with it for long.
Every day, I was wrestling whether I had made the right decision to leave my well paid executive job and start this business.
Every day I felt like I was letting my people down as I was working on my passion-based adventure.
Eventually, I went back to another executive job after nine months. I was relieved when I went back. This was ten years ago.
I learned something important during that experience.
- I had a lot of fear in me, and I didn’t know how to deal with it.
- I let other people (real or imaginative) control my decisions. I wasn’t in control.
- I was terrified of failure, and I absolutely at the time associated failure with less money and status.
- I valued growth, learning and contribution, but I didn’t associate them with success.
I felt small during those months of my first attempt of entrepreneurship.
In my mind, as long as I didn’t deliver a similar level of income, I hadn’t arrived and I was not a success. I couldn’t hold my head high.
Even though it was good enough from the get-go.
I loved what I did, I was very good at it, I had clients from the beginning, and we were producing great results.
Instead of appreciating the progress, I constantly felt small and inadequate, no matter how much I achieved.
I know, it sounds quite tormenting, doesn’t it?
How could you succeed at all with that attitude?
But I was not alone.
To me, this is the very reason many people never try anything.
I have seen business plans with outrageous figures for the first a few years.
And I know it isn’t just about having a strong belief in their ideas or meeting financial obligations, sometimes it is also about saving face, and proving they have what it takes.
Likely, we don’t even realise we are doing it.
Why all of these justifications?
It’s down to the self-perception.
So many of us only feel good about ourselves with some external armour we build around us (e.g. money, status, title, accolades).
Without these security blanket, we don’t feel good enough about ourselves, and we can’t act confidently in the same way.
The confidence depends on how good we look externally on a day to day basis.
If we strip away everything, our self-perception can be weak and insecure.
So there is this immense pressure to deliver and prove constantly. This pressure is the very reason people remains stuck.
I remember how hard it was for me to finally admit that my priority was to invest more time in learning new knowledge, contributing to my industry and enjoying my newly found passions, not continuously climb up vertically.
Even all the priorities sounded noble; I still felt this constant conflict within me at the time.
In reality, had I kept moving up, I would have missed out fulfilling my real potential.
Over the years, I saved tons of time from travelling around internationally for business.
I was able to use the extra time to complete a beloved degree, volunteer as a board director for a cause, and many precious moments with my children. I even started getting back to my writing passion, something I neglected for over two decades.
I no longer felt trapped in one identity only.
I started really like my corporate jobs as I started having other outlets to express different sides of myself.
I started to feel privileged to be in my leadership positions, where I could develop other talents and do greater good.
I was able to not only hold a demanding leadership role, and at the same time cultivate passion and purpose outside my work.
I flinch on the thoughts what would have happened had I kept going just to make my ego happy, to save my face, and to impress and prove to others?
Letting go of what I was expected to be and embracing who I truly was allowed me to stop wasting time in putting on a show all the time.
It allowed me to make peace with myself, and start honouring how I really felt, what I really would like to spend my precious time on, and brought joy back into my life again.
As I became more connected with my self, I started noticing something extraordinary happening.
Gradually, I felt lighter and more peaceful.
I knew what happened.
What I was conditioned to behave started to lose a grip on me.
What was also interesting was, I thought at one stage, if I didn’t hold onto my old path, I might lose my drive and motivation altogether.
However, giving myself permission to enjoy life and be who I was started to refuel my drive.
I became more passionate and driven than ever, except this time, my aspirations were no longer a result of impressing, pleasing and proving to others.
It is a natural drive coming from a place of honouring myself.
I became more curious about life.
I became braver.
I became more confident, not the fist-pumping type of confidence, but a quieter, more self-assured type of confidence.
When I started my business again a few years ago, it is similar to the business I started ten years ago. I once again had to start from scratch, but I didn’t bother to justify my decisions. I focused on sharing my vision instead.
So if you have found your passion, focus on sharing your gifts. You don’t have to prove to anybody.
Be true to yourself, don’t let any imaginative noises and distractions take over you, let your unique strengths and quiet confidence be in charge.
You will find far more peace, creativity and freedom this way.
What other thoughts do you have to build up your Quiet Confidence?
I would love to hear your comments.