I’ve noticed a crisis recently, a crisis of trust. I’ve noticed how seldom and little many of us trust ourselves.
I’ve noticed it with many of my clients. They have an inkling, a sense of a choice that is best for them or their team, but instead of trusting themselves and making a decision, they canvass others to get input and validation and steer away from their own idea. I’ve noticed it with colleagues. I’ve seen them have a clear preference for a next career move yet hold back for fear that their preference is misguided. I’ve seen it in myself.
Years ago someone told me that I had to trust myself because that was the only way I would learn if my hunches, thoughts, and inner guidance and desires were “right.” I’ve learned that this is true. (I learned it through trial and error and a bit of grit, determination, and grace. You can read more about my process on my lisakohnwrites.com blog.)
In fact, I’ve learned that there are five key reasons that we all must learn to trust ourselves:
- It is the only way you’ll learn if, and when, you can trust yourself – If you don’t follow your gut or choose the choice that resonates most with you, you will never learn if, or that, you can trust yourself. In many ways, trust, especially self-trust, is a muscle that needs to be strengthened and developed. It is only by trusting ourselves, by taking that leap, that we realize that there is, at least at times, wisdom there to trust.
- If you don’t trust yourself, no one else will – Years ago a client said to me, “You have to tell people what you want them to think about you.” More and more I realize how true this is. It is also true that others around me will follow my lead in how much to trust me. If I doubt my wisdom, they’ll doubt my wisdom. If I second-guess myself, they’ll second-guess me. If I want to have influence and impact, I have to believe in myself.
- You want others to learn to trust themselves too – Whether you’re leading an organization, a business, a team, or a family, chances are you want the people around you to learn how to make sound decisions and to trust themselves. But if they’re following your lead, and you haven’t yet learned to trust yourself, chances are that they won’t learn to trust themselves either. You want your direct reports to have the knowledge and self-confidence to take appropriate risks and lead their teams and work. They have to learn to trust themselves in order to do this, and they have to learn to trust themselves from you.
- You don’t have time to not trust yourself – Doubting ourselves or second-guessing or being unwilling to go with what we think or know can keep us from moving ahead and can slow us down. And I don’t know about you, but I really don’t have extra time to be slowed down. When we learn to trust ourselves and our sense of what is right for us, we can react more quickly (and Thoughtfully) to situations and people around us.
- Trusting yourself – and even trusting when you aren’t sure you can trust yourself – is essential for strong, Thoughtful leadership – If you think back to the leaders you truly admire, the bosses and religious figures and societal activists who most inspire you, chances are you’ll notice that at least part of their essence was a strong sense of self. When people know themselves and are true to themselves, their confidence and grounded-ness engages others and can start a movement towards good.
It may seem difficult to trust yourself. Or it may seem too grandiose. But it is essential.
It is essential to have a grip on reality and to know that you don’t have all the answers, all of the time. But it is also essential to stand tall and strong with your conviction and faith in yourself.
How have you learned to trust yourself? Click here to comment.
If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.
For support in trusting yourself, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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