I think we all have plenty of opportunities to stop for a moment and ponder where we are in life right now. So many times, for me at least, I didn’t want to know. I don’t want to look at where I am, where I could be, and how I was either moving away from that point or just not moving at all. So I didn’t think about it. That’s one sure way to never get where you want to go. Maybe it’s a guy thing – like not wanting to look at a map or ask for directions – but I think it’s probably rather universal to the human condition, at least to the human condition left to it’s own. I am seeing God open up doors in my life into rooms that I otherwise would be afraid to enter because of the mess I might find inside, but with his help and assurance, I can enter them, clean house, and then possibly even invite a guest in to share the experience with me in a useful way. God truly can use the worst or dirtiest experiences or parts of our lives for His greatest glory.

I’m continuing that journey of standing on the mountaintop and looking around to see where I’ve been, how I got here, and where I’m going. Or maybe it’s not a mountaintop. Maybe it’s a hill. Ok… let’s be honest. Maybe I’m just stepping up on a dirt clod in some cases. But my head is above water, I can look around for a minute, and this is good.

My growth up to this point in terms of SELF CONFIDENCE

Much of this I’m sure is related to my growth up to this point in terms of Self Image. How can one be confident in one’s self if one does not know who one’s self is? I have gone for the majority of my life believing lies and only half-accepting truths. As I continue to grow to believe that I do have value and that I am a full fledged adopted son of The King, my confidence in myself grows as well. I still struggle with being comfortable in my own skin (literally at times), but I’m much more aware of that battle, which makes it more of a fight than a struggle, if that word differentiation means anything.

Take this last week for example. I made a mistake in the “sales process” with a new customer and wound up billing them for something we hadn’t fully discussed. They caught it, and confronted me about it through a polite email. In the past, I would have either (1) launched into an explanation as to why the cost was justified and how it was a part of doing business with me or (2 – more probable) just told them to ignore it and let it go. This time I did neither of those two. I instead scheduled a meeting to review the issue. As we sat down, we went back to “the list” of what I had originally proposed we do, and saw that we were making significant progress on it. My client was not in fact mad at me… they are overjoyed at the work we’re doing. When it came to the invoiced item in question, their problem with it was first of all that we hadn’t discussed it, and second of all that they didn’t feel they wanted that service. Again, I could have backed down, tucked my tail between my legs, and “lived to fight another day,” probably through a defensive email.

Instead I pushed on… “Ok,” I said, “I see your point. But I have to do something. This is part of what I consider taking care of your business and it’s a way that I ‘cover the cost’ of some of the tools we purchase to even be available to service you. What can we do?” The discussion continued. Eventually, I blurted out something like, “Well, the going rate for this service on a purely hourly basis is $___ an hour.” ($30 an hour more than I was currently working for) The next words shocked me.

“Let’s do that. I’m totally fine with that… Your customers want options,” she told me. I may think that the best way to do something is this way, but that may not (and will not) work for every customer. Just because that doesn’t work doesn’t mean I need to give up. I can press on, ask the hard question, get the customer involved in answering the problem. And I did it! I now have a client who doesn’t pay me a little service fee each month to cover my cost but instead covers my costs through a higher hourly rate. Everyone is happy, content, and feels they have been heard and their issues addressed.

That is a very specific place where I see my self confidence growing. Before, I would not have pushed through that door. I would have considered it shut and locked, when in fact the customer just had her foot against it, preventing me from breaking and entering without first asking permission. I used the things I’ve been learning, put them to action, and wound up right where I needed to be.

This self-confidence thing applies to many other areas of life. I’ve seen it dramatically influencing what I’m willing to talk about via email versus phone or in person discussions. I’ve used emails and written words too often to try to avoid direct confrontation, and something always gets lost in translation.

I took a personality test as part of my coaching process. My greatest strength, it said, was listening. Along with that strength came character qualities such as passive, not liking change that isn’t well supported, and so on. Those are not qualities I thought I admired about myself, but as I see that they aren’t necessarily bad, when combined with a life lived on purpose that doesn’t just “stop living” when things get hard, I see that they truly are strengths and not signs of weakness. I am interested to see if things change should I re-take that test at some later date, but I value knowing that listening is a quality I’m good at; it not only affirms my value, but it gives me something to relish doing when given the opportunity.

So all that said, my self confidence is on the rise. As is my need for a basis for that self confidence. I am confident in myself because I am created with value, because I have something to offer, and because people enjoy my company. I need not be afraid of being talked down, discouraged, or even told “no.” Those words do not determine or change my value; they give me opportunities to better myself, to examine weaknesses and make them strengths, and to boldly go where no Chet Cromer has gone before. I’m loving it.

But it sure isn’t easy. 🙂

But as David said in the Bible…

The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid;
What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me, He is my helper;
I look in triumph on my enemies.

My enemies are not often specific people. They are rather attitudes such as despair, loneliness, doubt, disappointment, and isolation. I think they still fit in this passage.. what can they do to me? What power do they have over me? Only that which I have given them, and I’m proud to say I am taking back lost ground.