- Michael Lints
Finding Confidence in Insecurity
Updated: Dec 24, 2021
Am I worth it? Am I worth your attention? Should I even be here? Do you see me as your equal? I have always had this insecurity. Not fully understanding my self-worth. Afraid to lean into my passions. Now I can say I finally found confidence in my insecurity.
Photo: Mung Kong
Embracing my Journey
This month will mark my 46th birthday and my 25th year in the workforce. It feels weird thinking about that number, 25 years. I have always wondered when I would get that feeling of success. How would I embrace the moment when I have reached my full potential? For years I have been striving for this feeling and always seen it as the ultimate goal. Recently, I have noticed there is no such thing. There is no ultimate goal for me to achieve or some metaphorical summit where I will find my full potential. Everything is a journey, a process that leads you to the person you feel most comfortable with. I’ll share a personal example. In my early 30s, I would leave meetings completely frustrated. Frustrated, I didn’t sound smart during the meeting and upset I didn’t make that one comment to leave the room in awe. Over the years, I learned my preference is to absorb everything that happens during a meeting first. The energy between people. Who says what and why. After processing everything that transpired, I tend to reflect and share my thoughts after or even one-on-one. I always assumed being fast to respond or dominant during a meeting was important. It is not. Everyone processes information differently. Now, I am comfortable being relatively quiet during meetings. Assuming there is an expectation how I behaved during meetings was wrong. It was helpful for me to become convinced of my own process and sticking to it. We overthink what others expect from us and spend little time on how we build our own convictions.
Building Conviction through Guidance
Throughout my career, I have always struggled with confidence. My default behavior was to be guided by others because I assumed they know better. Seemingly there is nothing wrong with that. We can all use guidance in our lives, and mentors and coaches played a pivotal part in mine. When it came to my own decision making it got distorted. I didn’t believe enough in my own opinion anymore. I wasn’t sure that my vision or my thoughts mattered. I lost faith in my ability to build my own conviction and was seeking constant confirmation. Did I see this the right way? Does my vision make sense? Will others accept my thoughts on this topic? Constantly I was looking for confirmation and acceptance.
The industry I work in is all about having conviction. Building an investment thesis and conviction in the companies and founders we invest in. Although I felt the ability to make the decisions daily, I couldn’t shake that feeling of insecurity. I felt conflicted when I wanted to voice my opinion. I was dedicated to finding a way to solve this. Receiving guidance early on in my career as a venture capitalist has been a big catalyst for me. Learning from my peers, founders and coaches showed me that conviction (and dedication) eventually pay off. Even if you get it wrong, the journey will be invaluable.
Uncovering my Best Self
A long journey filled with questions, self-doubt, and the drive to succeed led me to a few conclusions which I hope will be useful for others.
Being honest with yourself
Building your own conviction
Accepting who I am was a huge step for me. I guess we go through different versions of ourselves before understanding who we truly are. It was important for me not to let others dictate who I should be or how I should feel. Acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. It was important for me to let the process of self-discovery play out. I consciously spend time reflecting on my own actions, beliefs, and what I want to see myself grow into. The only way I could do this was through total honesty with myself. Not shying away from tough questions was hard but necessary. Being my biggest critic whilst embarking on a journey of becoming my “comfortable self.” This deep dive into where I see myself brought me to this revelation that being insecure is fine. Figuring out your emotions is fine. Fortunate enough, I have learned to be confident even when I am insecure. This lesson manifested itself when I analyzed my own decision-making process and understanding my desire to feel deeply involved in everything I do. I taught myself to get the highest conviction in everything I aspire to before diving in. It means I think deeply before making a decision. I want to understand if it is something I believe in. I want to make sure my involvement adds value to the outcome.
Having conviction is not about being stubborn. I found a definition that stuck with me; A state of mind in which one is free from doubt.
Uncovering your best self takes time. Don’t try to rush it. Through experience, insights, guidance, and self-reflection, you’ll find a path. Try to imagine yourself as an athlete training for a big event. Winning the event might be the goal, but the athlete's journey is where the athlete learns about their physique, mental state, and recovery.
Pick Your Path
I want to close out this post with a random thought I had. I was out for a run last Sunday and had to think of this funny analogy. We’ve all had this moment when you walked down the street, and a random person walks towards you. To avoid bumping into each other, you go left only to realize this person is going right (meaning you are still on a collision course). You get into this awkward left-right-left dance until someone decides to pick a path and stay there. We get influenced by others all the time, but we shouldn’t be afraid to set our sights on our own path and have the conviction to stick to it.