Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Biggest Single Confidence Killer by Elaine Sihera

The desire to control is central to all of us. It is tied up with our need for security. Without control we feel lost and at sea, insecure and vulnerable. The need to control our future, our environment, the consequences of our actions, our children, homes, money and other people is what keeps us going. Personal confidence is increased if we believe we are 'in charge' and 'on top of things', i.e. in control. Once we have command of people and resources we are seen to have power.

But what is power, and is control the essence of power?

There are two types of power: personal and professional. Many people associate professional power with wealth, having the right connections or being able to influence the lives of a lot of people. In fact, real power is none of these because they are all transitory and depend on too many external factors for their maintenance. If you are rich, the money doesn't automatically give you power. It gives you the freedom and independence to decide your future, to establish your own lifestyle and possibly to recruit people to assist your endeavours. Your money may be able to help you to buy anything under the sun but you have limited power if there is just one person who could prevent you doing what you truly desire, or if your peers deny you respect.

Knowing the right connections, i.e. using other people to help you up, is no power at all. It is actually a tacit admission that you cannot make it on your own and ultimately renders you powerless because your future is always in the hands of others. There will be favours that you owe them so you will forever be obliged to them for their help. It might boost your status to be associated with a particular person or social group, but it robs you of real independence, personal pride and the will to succeed on your own. To remain in their favour, you have to play the rules of their game, which reduces your options appreciably and any influence you may have to decide your own actions.

Finally, being in charge of other people, even if you were president or prime minister, does not give you power per se. It would give you status and influence, but no real power. True professional power comes from authority; the authority granted by others which we can never take onto ourselves. Without it there is no power. For example, George Bush(USA) and Tony Blair(UK) might still be President and Prime Minister, but their power has been noticeably eroded since they've been in office because of their unpopular actions on the Iraq war. Their authority has been reduced because of those actions. Dictators have no authority to rule either and so take power by force. They can only maintain that power by continued force and repression because their action would have stirred deep resentment. The minute there is a slip, someone with real authority will be waiting to take over.

The Origins of Personal PowerPersonal power comes from being able to act upon choices and to make decisions which can affect your daily routine or your whole future. If you cannot make a decision which controls your own life, without someone else's approval, agreement or permission, you have very little power. If you cannot act upon the various options available, selecting the ones most suitable and beneficial for you and those who matter, you have no personal power. If you lack the belief in your abilities and the faith in your capacity to affect your life positively, you will be unable to fulfil your potential and you will feel powerless to act in influencing your direction.

Our level of confidence is also determined by the degree of control we believe we have over our situation, both personally and professionally. If we perceive ourselves to be impotent, having little power to change circumstances to suit ourselves, or to increase our personal enjoyment, we gradually lose confidence because others come to see that impotence too. With a loss of power comes the belief that we are not as good as others and that thought carries acute low self esteem with it.

Personal power is very important for building confidence and boosting self-esteem because it is the feeling of certaintly that we have the freedom to do anything we want, and the capacity and the means to do it, which makes us feel truly alive. The limits if such power are dictated by those who can stop us in our tracks. Absolute power comes from having the authority to act, yet not having to answer to any superior. On a personal basis, such power comes from a love of ourself, belief in our capabiities and the faith to know that everything is possible in our life.

A lack of personal power is thus the biggest killer of our confidence. It continually lowers our self esteem and keeps us in a state of weakness and impotence. In short, feeling powerless in our life keeps us invisible, vulnerable, unhappy, dependent and uncomfortably exposed.

ELAINE SIHERA (Ms Cyprah - and is an expert author, public speaker, media contributor and columnist. The first Black graduate of the OU and a post-graduate of Cambridge University. Elaine is a CONFIDENCE guru and a consultant for Diversity Management, Personal Empowerment and Relationships. Author of: 10 Easy Steps to Growing Older Disgracefully; 10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Ideal Soulmate!; Money, Sex & Compromise and Managing the Diversity Maze, among others (available on as well as her personal website). Also the founder of the British Diversity Awards and the Windrush Men and Women of the Year Achievement Awards. She describes herself as, "Fit, Fabulous, Over-fifty and Ready to Fly!"

Article Source:

No comments:

Check-Out These Great Podcasts: Dream Your Life, Live Your Dream