Do you trust yourself? Are you trusted by others? I’ve had the privilege of speaking to many strong leaders in business, government, finance and education, and asked a question that’s changed my understanding of leadership and the role of trust, particularly self-trust.
I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, “I love you.” There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.~ Maya Angelou ~
The question: If you had to make an important decision and the information told you one thing but your intuition and your gut strongly told you another, what would you do?
The answer: Every single one of the leaders I spoke to said they would listen to their gut. They also emphasized the importance of gathering data.
Take away: The best leaders listen wholeheartedly to themselves and to others.
Over and over I’ve heard the story: The ability to trust myself is what made me a leader. What about you? Do you have deep trust in yourself?
The Miriam online dictionary gives the following synonyms for self trust: aplomb, assurance, self-assurance, self-assuredness, self-confidence, self-esteem. To me they don’t completely describe or explain what self-trust is. (And seriously, what the heck is aplomb? I’m thinking it’s not something that is purple and sweet to eat.)
On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rate your self-trust right now? Would you like to improve that score? Here are some things you can do to increase your self-trust.
#1. Develop an unconditional positive self-regard.
Carl Rogers, founder of the Humanistic approach to psychology talked about the need for unconditional positive self-regard. It doesn’t mean that you won’t continue to improve yourself, however when you completely accept and love yourself, you open yourself to trusting your instincts and judgments rather than being controlled by others. You can start by monitoring what you say to yourself.
#2. Only promise out loud what you can deliver.
It’s great to set goals and there has been a lot written on the power of focusing on what you want to achieve. What is often overlooked: what setting unobtainable goals and failing does to our self-trust. I don’t want you to quit making BHAG goals (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), but I want you to break them into small bite size goals that you can achieve. With each victory you will trust yourself more.
#3. Work from your strengths.
If my self-trust is built around my ability to write a symphony, then I will forever doubt myself. Learn what your strengths are. Instead of trying to improve your weaknesses, build on your strengths and use them to honor your position and what you can achieve in the world. If you don’t know your strengths, then ask those that know you best and have unconditional self-regard for you. Accept your strengths.
#4. Be congruent.
Congruence + Self-love = Authenticity
Don’t be afraid to show others who you are. It is a strength to show your vulnerabilities, not a weakness. Read Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability. When you try to be someone you are not, you are telling yourself that you are not good enough. You come across as being phony and you get the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.~ Brene Brown ~
Self-trust is not arrogance. It is born of knowing yourself, and respecting and loving the person you see in the mirror.
Bottom Line: If you really want to trust others, you have to trust yourself first.