The Confidence Game

Warning! Self-contemplation ahead!

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When you hear the words “con man” or “con artist”, you feel a certain negative “connotation”. A con man earns his reputation, and his living, by taking people into his confidence. He tricks them into believing something that is not true. He swindles others when he plays a confidence game.

Pretty nasty business, huh? But, do we ever need to play a confidence game to get by in life? For as negative as the terms sound here, I’m going out on a limb to say that we need a good old fashioned con game on a regular basis. And, that it can sometimes be the most positive thing we can do in the moment.

What is “acting as if”? Or, how about “fake it until you make it”? These are bits of wisdom and advice that will come from many motivational sources. They are not proposing that we be brutally honest with ourselves. Are we conning ourselves, or is this coping mechanism a necessary part of finding our best self?

We all agree that positive self-talk is critical to our happiness. Negativity gets in the way of every beautiful thing. Positivity is being proactive in our inner game. The inner game is what lies below the surface, as opposed to our outer game. The outer game is what we show other people. They are not always the same.

So, self-confidence is so important to your success in business, and in life. Without self-confidence, you lack the will to move forward on the things you must do to reach your goals. People that are lacking in self-confidence can be paralyzed into inaction.

The con game that is necessary for us to play with ourselves can save us from drowning in a sea of hopelessness. Who doesn’t have self-doubt from time to time? What do we call on to banish self-doubt? That’s right… self-confidence. Believing in ourselves, even when we are unsure. Being kind and forgiving to ourselves, even if we may not feel that we deserve it in the moment. Being brave and pushing on, even when we feel terrified. Allowing ourselves to be flawed, even as we strive for excellence.

How do you build confidence in yourself? If you struggle with it, I think you’re in good company.

– Cat

Some College

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I started college early.  I was just sixteen at the time.  I graduated high school early, skipping my senior year.  In my junior year of high school, I was enrolled in high school and college concurrently.

Then, I had a fight with my father.  I dropped out of college, and moved out of the house at seventeen.  I was determined to make a go of it, and worked full time.  I was fiercely independent, but I knew I had made the wrong decision about college.  So, I took college courses in the evening.  That was difficult to do, and after a while it took a toll on me.

Once I married at eighteen and had a child, I tried to go back and get my degree.  I went to school three full days a week, with a great granny watching my son, Thom.  I had an 8:00 am political science class, which I approached with great enthusiasm.  Then… two things started happening during the 8:00 am class:  I would fall asleep or throw up.  You guessed it, blessed with a second baby.

I took that as a sign from God that I should finish up my degree “later”.  Two more kids later, college was no longer featuring in my dreams, let alone my life.  I wasn’t sad about it.  I was busy, with my hands full, and my heart full as well.  I would take a class now and then.

A few years ago, I was in a meeting at work.  I had a chance for an advancement program, and was nominated in front of a bunch of coworkers.  It was a great opportunity.   But I had to say, in front of everybody, that I didn’t have the required college degree.  I made the decision then to give college another try.  Enrolling in an online university, I was an exuberant scholar.  I got perfect marks in everything I did.

Then the day came.  I got some points taken off on a paper that I had written.  I was extremely mad about it.  My husband explained that it was actually okay that it happened, and it was good for me.  I let that sink in, and realized that he was right.  I took a break from school at the end of the semester, though.  We were moving to a new area after twenty years in our house.  This demanded more time and energy than I could devote while studying.

So, it’s still left undone. I’m a grandmother now, and I work full time, and I can’t say with certainty that I’ll ever finish.  Maybe when I retire.  When my daughter, Catie, was in college, she told me she was going to take a semester off.  I told her that she wasn’t.  We both felt like I was being too pushy at the time, but we’re both glad now that she has her master’s degree.  My father is in his eighties and still takes college courses, if they interest him.

Some college.  Well, that could mean anything.  It could mean two classes.  It could mean almost there.  Almost every job you apply for now states that a college degree is required, or at least preferred.  Since employers have you apply online, gone is the chance to dazzle with a first impression. You can’t show them your sense of style.  You don’t get to brag about all the things you can do.  You can’t wow them with your work ethic.  You never get to give them a firm handshake  and a confident smile.

Most days I don’t think about it.  Other days, I have to help the person that has a degree, and got the opportunity, to prepare their final presentation in the program.  I don’t believe that you must have a college degree to be successful or happy in life.  But I do believe that you limit your choices without one.  So, if you’re in school, stay in school until you’re done.  If you’ve got your degree, you have that accomplishment to be proud of, and I admire you for it!

I lead a happy life.  I have a big family, with four children, two stepchildren, six grandkids, with one more on the way!  They bring me so much joy!  I have found meaningful work to do, and love making a difference everyday.  My husband and I get along great and enjoy each other’s company.  We have a lovely home, and great neighbors.  I’ve still got both my parents.  Most days “some college” is just not that bad.

 – Cat

Forgive Me… I’m Trying to Forgive You

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One of my favorite quotes is:

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself”

When I was checking on the source for this quote, it looks like Suzanne Somers gets the most votes.  We had Tony Robbins in the mix, along with TD Jakes.  Well, it deserves deep consideration, no matter who authored it.

I’ve held a grudge.  I’ve fed it and nurtured it.  I’ve felt the burn. The person holding the grudge will always feel worse than the target of the anger and resentment.  If you are stubborn and slow to forgive, it will always hurt you more than anyone else.

I know it takes so much effort to forgive immediately and with sincerity, but the pay off is huge!

While we’re on the topic of forgiving, it’s okay to hold yourself to a high standard of ethics or morality.  But, we are human, and sometimes we hurt other people, even if we don’t mean to.  Be quick to forgive yourself in the midst of your guilt trip.

The usual form of an apology is:  “I’m sorry that I got angry, BUT….”  Make your statement and then stop.  Don’t qualify your feelings and take the argument to the next level.  If you have a fight with a friend, both parties should apologize.  That’s what friends do.  It’s called making up.

Resolving a rift between friends can put you right on the mountaintop.  It feels blissful to bring restoration to a broken relationship.  You’ll be wondering why you waited so long!

Just a word of caution.  Remember, that while your feelings of forgiveness towards someone may feel right to you, they may take time to bring a resolution.  Your words and gestures of apology may not be returned right away, if at all.  Forgive anyway. You can only control your side of the equation.  This is something that we must learn from.  It’s part of life.  This is what it means to be accountable; to accept the consequences of your actions.

Who can you forgive today?  Give yourself a gift and get started.

– Cat

What’s Your Superpower?

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Photo by Tyler Lambert

Superheroes have been around for a while, but they are more popular than ever!  Lots of popular movies and  TV shows tell the story of a Superhero, or sometimes a group of them.

 I’m not one that’s caught up in the Superhero media craze. I like to celebrate everyday people who develop their own superpowers.  We each have at least one personality attribute that can be used for good, which we know can defeat evil, right?

I’ve used this exercise before, in encouraging and demonstrating individual strengths in the workplace.  As part of a team, you might not have patience. If you know the person next to you does, you can turn to them for help and advice when you need to.  If I’m feeling down, but I know your positivity is infectious, I can hang out with you until I’m all powered up.

But enough about everybody else.  Let’s talk about you for a minute.  Take some time right now and think about your superpower.  What’s the one thing, the one strength you have, that we can all rely on to make the world a better place.  Is it your smile, your sense of humor? Is it your determination, your tenacity?  Is it your helpful attitude?  Your quest for knowledge? Are you a good listener?  Empathetic?  Humble?

I’ve given you a few examples, now it’s up to you to put the concept together.  You see, your special gift is what helps you contribute to this group project we call life.  By developing and putting your talents to work, you improve the planet.

Every once in a while, I run across someone who tells me that they don’t have a superpower.  They don’t recognize any talent or gift within themselves.  So, it’s safe to say that positivity is not their strong suit.  If you’re in the club of naysayers, ask someone you love, or work with, maybe someone in your family…. Hey, do I have any superpowers?

Chances are, you’ll get them thinking about their own superpower, while they’re helping you get yours figured out.  Once you do this exercise a few times, you’ll start noticing other people’s talents with a sharper eye.  Before you know it, we’re all going around appreciating each other!

Okay… maybe I took that a little farther than I should have.  But the point is, we can grow and learn through this exercise.  Try it.  I’ll bet it won’t take you much time at all.  I’m thinking that you’ll have a hard time narrowing it down to just one.

Let me know how it goes!

-Cat

Self-Esteem – Where Can I Get It?

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There is so much talk these days about self-esteem.

Sometimes people hold others accountable for damage… or even possible damage, to their self-esteem.  We often feel that high self esteem is something that we’re all entitled to.  Some folks think that everything hinges on it.  Others downplay it’s importance.  It’s definitely become a catch phrase.

I can hold you in high esteem, but I can’t hold you in high self-esteem. Self- esteem comes from within the self, not from external sources.  It is how you view yourself, take pride in yourself, and is often reflected in the way you care for yourself.

How can you make an impact on the way you view yourself?  What you do, and what you say to yourself, should be your concentration. Here’s how you can do you… and increase your self-esteem while you’re at it.

Find Some Work Worth Doing

When you spend your time contributing to society, you will feel your self-esteem blossom and grow.  This is usually done through your work, which is where you spend most of your waking hours.  Unemployed? Use this time to learn a new skill, do some self-reflection, and make good use of your time out.  Can you volunteer? Do something that interests you.

Be Helpful

Just pitch in.  Get started.  We all have talents that we fail to use to their potential.  If nothing else, we all need encouragement.  Ask yourself “who can I encourage today?”.  A smile goes a long way.  Make it your goal to give smiles away and collect them in equal measure.

Forgive Yourself

Are you experiencing depression, financial trouble, or relationship problems?  It’s easy to blame yourself.  Start today to forgive yourself.  “Why can’t I feel better?”, “Why am I so bad with money?”, “Why can’t I make my partner happy?”.  Feeling guilty and beating yourself up never works as a strategy for coping.

Talk to Yourself

You can run a negative talk track with yourself, or a positive one.  You have total control over what you tell yourself.  Even if you have to “fake it until you make it”, you have got to nourish yourself with kind words.  No matter what your issues are, you just can’t afford the luxury of talking down to yourself.

Have an Open Heart

What do I mean by that?  I mean that you approach everyone you meet with an open heart.  Be willing to be present in every interaction.  Don’t downplay the importance of connecting.   Listen and reflect on the conversations you have with others. Every path you cross is an opportunity for you to make a connection outside of yourself.

So, to wrap it up, how you choose to spend your time and resources can bring you the biggest sense of pride in yourself.  Don’t wait for others to serve you up a heaping dish of self-esteem.  No matter the circumstances, your self esteem is yours to claim!

    – Cat

Being A Phoenix

When I opened my blog about a week ago, I asked the question “Can we reinvent ourselves?” For me, it was a rhetorical question.  In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a bird who dies in a fire of its own making, and then rises up from the ashes to live again.  I know a little something about being a phoenix.

If you’re reading this right now, you know something about it too.  We all have setbacks, whether we’re given to high drama, or whether we keep things to ourselves.  History is full of stories of famous unsuccessful attempts.  The Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, all failed.  You know that saying, credited to George Custer, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts, it’s how many times you get back up” ?  I’m here to testify; It’s TRUE!

I’ve failed, I’ve been embarrassed by my failures, I’ve doubted that I could rise up again.  But I’ve done it.  A failed first marriage, two failed businesses, estrangement from loved ones…you know, the usual stuff.  It has taken tenacity.  Some days I had the sense I was just compelled to push on.  I do feel like a phoenix, and that’s a special kind of energy in itself.  That’s what matters.  It’s not what others think about your successes and failures.

When you fumble the ball, get it back as soon as you can and run for a touchdown.  Now, your chance to get the ball back may not come on the next play.  It may be the next game, or the next season, or you might even have to wait until you get traded and someone else gives you another chance to have the ball. But, you’ve got to be ready when it comes.  (I’m not into sports. I don’t know why I used that analogy, but I like it).

So, just go ahead and rise up from the ashes!  Be a phoenix!  It’s never over, as long as you get up in the morning.

 

 

 

Diva Dorreen

Diva…what does that mean?

My friend Dorreen had a birthday yesterday.  She’s the kind of friend that you have a “sister” connection with.  We don’t talk that often, but in the 9+ years that I’ve known her, it’s always good when we do get a chance to catch up!  You never have to wonder about how she’s feeling at any given moment.  She is accessible, and always up front when she speaks.

I want to say how much I admire her tenacity.  She’s been faced with life threatening illness and major surgery, along with the rest of all the stuff that we go through as parents and grandparents…and she always puts on a brave face.  Anything she decides to do, she goes right ahead and does it!

A while ago, she decided she’d like to write a romance novel.  Done!  Then she wrote another one!  Bam! Her novel sells on Amazon.  Her pen name is  Diva Dorreen, and she is a force to be reckoned with.  Even though I’ve decided to take a try at blogging, I am pretty sure I would have to move mountains of self-doubt and uncertainty to tackle such a big project.

What an inspiration for so many people who have you in their lives to one extent or another.  Shine on, Dorreen!  Whenever I hear the word Diva, I’ll have the image of you in my head and a smile on my face!

–  Cat

Parenting. Just do your best.

My daughter made an observation in her Facebook post today that rang true.  Parenting is hard.  A lot of parents have a hard time deciding when they are being too strict, too lenient, too smothering, or not supportive enough.  The list goes on and on.  Here’s the thing; if you don’t have confidence is what you’re doing….you’re sunk!

When I expecting my first child, I read a line from a poem about parenthood (can’t locate the source) that ended with the line “With the pitter patter of tiny feet, come a hundred thousand words to eat”.  Which is to say, the idea of being a parent is so different from the reality of being a parent.  When you’re in the planning stages, you have an idea in your mind about the common mistakes you see parents around you making, and you think that you’ve got every strategic advantage and know just the right way to handle things.

Turns out you don’t know too much about anything once you add a child into the mix.  The thing we all take for granted is our ability to control things.  A baby becomes a child, and then a….well, a person.   With their own thoughts and opinions.  Every age has its surprises that you feel woefully unprepared for.  Things will occasionally come out of left field, catching you totally unaware.

Despite the challenges, my experience with motherhood has brought a lot of joy to me over the years.  I always say that you don’t really reach the total highs and lows of life until you get the chance to raise a child.  In conclusion, when you think about it, we all know “bad” kids from “good” homes.  We also know “good” kids that have overcome “bad” homes.  Just do your best.  Give your heart and your head equal time when making decisions.  Be content to get through the adventure in one piece!

-Cat