You hear it all the time, ladies. Exude confidence. Act with self-assurance. Be bold. Be brazen. Be, above all else, confident in your abilities, your appearance, your beliefs.
This week, I am here to advise you otherwise. Recently, as I was walking with my wife in our neighborhood, she interjected casually, mid-sentence, that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. True. But, if given the choice, she professed that she would err on the side of vulnerability in a meeting, as opposed to acting with supreme confidence, in order to build an authentic relationship with a client.
My mind wandered immediately to her business dinner meetings where I have been in tow. After a few, I began to get the hang of it; I learned how to center the conversation around the universal subjects appropriate to dinner discussions with clients. But, as I thought further of these meetings, inspecting her conjecture against the reality, I realized that she spoke the truth. Without fail, there would be a point in the conversation where my wife would wipe clean the slate of news stories and market volatility to hone in on the client’s family. She would ask about the daughter’s dance recital or the mother’s cancer and suddenly, I would be transfixed by the softness of the relationship.
In my wife’s case, she must possess an innate confidence in order to hold her own in the male dominated business world; however, her unwavering success she solely attributes to her authenticity.
The more I reflected on this, the more I realized we might be giving too much credit to the wrong quality. What if, instead of focusing on how to be more confident, or to ‘act’ with confidence, we focused on how to be more authentic? More vulnerable? More real? What if we chose to lift the mask of assurance? What if, by doing so, we allowed others to be more genuine too?
For a moment, I could see it. A world where understated confidence married authenticity. It felt like my best girlfriend at age seven. Everything was possible and no topic was off limits. The world was not an oyster to be had, but instead the world was truly the pearl inside.
I encourage you to think about the pearly moments in your own life, and the common denominator they may share. For me, performing confidently as the lead in a school play did not outweigh the tears I shed when my sister had a baby. And accepting my job proudly has never surpassed the feeling of taking my marriage vows. There simply is an unmatched treasure in the moments that are the most real.