I was reminded yesterday as I observed approximately 50 children auditioning for Seussical, a musical based on the stories of Dr. Seuss, how elusive confidence can be.
This audition was a call back. These were the kids that made it through the first round of auditions earlier in the week and were now being considered for one of the five lead parts. My role was to assist the director in taking notes on how these kids showed up...their voice quality, their acting skills and their ability to move about the stage freely and without embarrassment. They appeared to range in age from six to sixteen. Some have been on stage before and for others, it was their first acting experience.
I noticed confidence was inconsistently apparent. Those with experience, who have previously received praise for past performances, stepped up and performed confidently. Some of the younger kids that may not have had experience, but have also not reached that point in their development of being afraid of being judged, also very innocently jumped in with both feet and did their best with obvious confidence.
For others that may have auditioned in the past and did not win a major part, fear and lack of confidence seemed to interfere with them authentically showing up, full out.
So, how can we get ( or hold on to) confidence in life in general, or in specific challenges like auditions, job interviews, or sports events?
One factor that can aid in our holding on to confidence is the knowing that what we do is not a reflection of who we are. The children that could not consistently hit the high notes are no less valuable in this world than those that could.
Another major factor is the believing in what is possible. If we are personally believing we do not have what it takes to be successful, then chances are high, we won't be. If we are overwhelmed with fear, then our confidence can diminish to almost nothing. Our natural abilities can be thwarted by our own thoughts of not being good enough. Frankly, some of the kids simply did not have voices strong enough to carry a lead, yet their desire to perform, their willingness to play and the apparent joy of being on stage made them a standout and a joy to watch.
So how do we build and sustain our confidence? To me, it makes sense to simply show up fully, sincerely and full out, without a fear of being wrong. All we can do is our best in any given moment, nothing more. Sometimes it is enough to get the role, the job, or to win the race.... sometimes it's not.
If we show up fully and enjoy our process then the experience will strengthen us rather than tear us down. We will learn and grow from each experience rather than be diminished by it. Our confidence and trust in ourselves will not be attached to our outward successes, but by our ability to be who we are without fear.