I want to talk a little about the organic and impressionable character-trait called confidence.
Take the role confidence plays in where and how and when we run: My friend admits there is a road in our neighborhood which she will avoid on a run, at any time of day. There is a fairly "remote" stretch on this road, if you will - woodsy, funky auto body shop, marshy land - and apparently, there's "just something about it" that keeps her away. How sad. This road is a direct connector to another road, making for a nice long running loop. In addition to the auto body shop, it passes by an elk farm, crosses a section of marsh, and is usually not very trafficked. I rather like it. I had never thought of not running on that road until she mentioned it (except of course until I was charged by an angry mutt) and I have run over it, many, many times.
Or what about running in a new area when traveling. Certainly there are cautionary tales about running in foreign places, though honestly, I've never felt compelled to stay back from a run out of fear for my safety. I've run in Hell's Kitchen in NYC, downtown Cancun, Mexico, and frankly got the strangest looks on a run in Kilbrittain, Ireland. They weren't threatening looks, just "What the hell are you doing?" kinds of looks.
I believe that through running, we gain a sense of personal and physical confidence that pervades our other activities. I mean think about the courage it takes to toe the line at a race or lead a department at work, or ask for a raise, or get married and raise a family! Yet we do those things all the time.
So when I lack confidence, like I did this past week leading up to a presentation I made yesterday, it feels very inconsistent and I wonder about that. I actually get cranky about it.
The presentation was at a Women Standing Together quarterly luncheon to talk about my business A Running Conversation. I was invited to present a challenge that I have experienced in the start-up process, and to get feedback from a roomful of professional women. Wow! What an amazing business development opportunity. Why would I even hesitate?
I hesitated because I was concerned about how I would present myself and my business, and perhaps I wouldn't be effective and productive. Or worse, I'm afraid my business isn't viable! I didn't want to waste anyone's time, and I wanted to get the most out of an amazing opportunity. It's significant that going into this meeting, other professionals I admire and respect placed their confidence in me - the event coordinator, my friend who sits on the board and introduced me, past colleagues and friends who knew I was making this presentation, my family. They knew I would do fine, and, they believe in my business.
It's times like these when I doubt myself or feel fear and get entirely different feedback from others, that I must trust their input and believe what they are saying is true, because god knows, I can kid myself right out of performing up to my capabilities.
I wonder if this has ever happened in my running and racing? Ha, ha, you can bet on it. Like I said at the beginning, confidence is impressionable. The challenge is to mold it in a way that nurtures a healthy approach to life, and keeps us moving forward. And it's okay to have help along the way. In fact, I think it's imperative.