I was having a conversation with a friend they other day when they asked me a question that caught me off guard. They asked me “how can you always be so confident and know what to do?” The reason I was caught of guard was that this isn’t how I view myself. In my mind I know sometimes I make decision that I am not confident about at all. In fact, sometimes I feel like I’m choosing an option only because I have to choose one. It made me wonder why my perception of myself was translating so differently to others.
I thought about it for a while and discussed it with my friend. After we dissected things a bit I think I stumbled across an explanation. What I realized is that there is something I am very confident about. I’m confident that even if my choices don’t give me the result I expected I have the ability to move forward from wherever I end up. I tend to look at the outcome of my choices as wrong and more as different.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t think I make mistakes or bad decisions. I do. I’m often the first to mentally chastise myself for a bad decision. But as I thought about it I realized that my personal experience parallels what I see in clients.
Some clients use a similar approach to the one I use. They make choices and recognize that sometimes their choices result in outcomes other than what they expected. They have the ability to acknowledge that their choice did work out as expected. They may even label it as a mistake. But at the same time they are looking at where to go from here. How to start moving in the direction that they want to go.
The other variation I see is people who become so focused on the “mistake” they made that they have difficulty ever turning their attention towards moving forward. They see their past choices as failures and spend their time beating themselves up. Instead of making the next move towards where they want to be they become stuck.
I think it is important to look at our choices and how they played out. But that look should be done for the purpose of learning and growing not self condemnation. And the fact is that although our choice didn’t lead us to where we expected, we will never truly be able to know if a different choice would have had a better result. We can speculate but because that moment has passed we can never know for sure.
In our busy world we sometimes lose sight of the fact that When we are trying to get from point A to point B that it can be okay to go through points A.1, A.2 and A.3. Life is a journey. Sometimes we take the direct route and sometime we take the scenic route. And sometimes detours are not of our own doing.
The other thing we often forget is that mistakes don’t have to equate with failure. They may just be bumps along the way to success. There is a Chinese proverb that says “Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” So the next time you make a decision remember that you don’t have to be confident about your decision…you just need to be confident that if you fall down you can get up, brush yourself off and take the next step towards being where you want to be.