Despite what I’m up to as a professional, I’m pretty sure that the lesson I’ve most impressed upon my teenage daughters actually comes from our time together in our tiny kitchen.
I’m no Martha Stewart but I do like to whip up comfort foods from my motherland in Southeast Asia. They like to dabble with me in the kitchen and they love to devour the fruits of our labor. We mix spices and seasonings and taste as we go to develop the perfect blend of flavors. We pour ingredients into sauces as we artfully combine pinches of pepper with lime juice to create the exquisite tastes of Thai cooking.
The lesson my daughters will likely always remember from me is: “Pour with confidence.”
They’ve watched me pour fish sauce into ramekins, broth into bowls, coffee into thermoses, and vodka into flasks.
When my youngest pours her chocolate almond milk into her unicorn mug that says “You’re Magic,” she lights up as she hollers, “Pour With Confidence!”
Her large brown eyes twinkle when she speaks. She is one of my greatest contributions to the world and I know that she will always remember to “Pour – with confidence.”
It seems like a minor lesson but when I examine it, I realize that what I’ve taught my kids is that confidence is the key to having it all. Confidence, or self assurance in your choices, opens doors, lets you sleep at night, and keeps spills to a minimum. Confidence, not to be confused with arrogance, brings you peace, such that you know you are performing your best. Confidence, trusting in your abilities, is the gift you give yourself AND others.
Flashback – I danced all through secondary and higher education and even some after graduate school. Fast forward a few years and I’ve been overweight for the last 5. I finally decided I was done waiting to be skinny again – I will dance now. I took up ballroom dance over a year ago and while I may take up more space in the mirror than I used to, it lights me up to be able to share with my partner the magic that is the dance floor. Dance – with confidence.
A couple of years ago, despite some concerns, I traveled to the Netherlands by myself. I took the train around the countryside and explored the cities by foot. Not only did I trust myself to have good judgment, I trusted others to give me good directions; to take me where I wanted to go in their cars; and to translate accurately. It was a beautiful and fulfilling time that I never would have experienced had I let anxiety dominate. Travel – with confidence.
As an arts entrepreneur, my job is precariously dependent on the opinions of others. In order to fulfill on my career, I have to creatively satisfy the needs and wants of others. This isn’t the easiest hustle out there. It took several years of practice and it takes a daily routine of visualizing being my best at my work to actually feel my best with my work. Confidence *is* an inside job. Create – with confidence.
I could regale you with stories of my fortune teller grandmother in Thailand counseling thousands of people with her uncanny ability to read them and try to impress upon you the importance of trusting your intuition or your gut or your ineffable sense of things but instead, I will suggest that you work to cultivate the practices necessary to be confident.
I didn’t start my work as a photographer knowing inherently how to coach or pose people. I studied pictures I liked and I rehearsed how to tell people to get into those poses in the simplest, clearest, and easiest ways possible. First I sketched the poses and then I articulated how one might get into that pose and then I rehearsed every night as I fell asleep. This practice led to me having confidence in posing people and I believe that that confidence is contagious. I trust myself and because I do, people trust in me.
What practices do you need to cultivate to have the confidence in the areas of life that are important to you? Are you willing to do the work? Are you willing to learn how to trust in your abilities? Determine what’s missing and fill the void. Whether it is in the kitchen, in your career, or in your relationships, confidence comes from within and expands with attention, practice, and courage.