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Growing up in a group home, and with an undiagnosed learning disability to boot, the odds of success were not on my side. But when I joined the high school football team, I learned the value of discipline, focus, persistence, and teamwork – all the skills that have proven vital to my career as C.E.O. and social entrepreneur. Darell Hammond

Last night my husband and I watched I Feel Pretty with Amy Schumer a body image satire. A young woman struggling with insecurities hits her head and wakes up believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman in the world. This empowers her to live fearlessly and go after her dreams. She hits her head again and the magic is gone. She doesn’t see herself as beautiful anymore. In the end, she sees the picture of her regular self and her beautiful self and realizes it was all in her head. She has an ah-ha moment when she hears one of the beautiful girls crying and finds out she’s been dumped. She didn’t think that happened to the beautiful.

How many of us hold our self back because we are not pretty enough, thin enough, or confident enough? We need to realize it is the confidence, not the pretty that will get us somewhere.

A young man came as a guest to Toastmasters on Thursday. He’s an accountant; he has a slight stutter and is hoping toastmasters will help him become a better speaker. He was asked to give a one to two-minute impromptu speech and won the best speaker for that section. He’s facing his fears; he’s becoming his best self.

We all struggle, or do we? Are there people out there who don’t struggle, who don’t second-guess themselves?

Do we not offer our help because we don’t think others would like out help? It might be better if we think, what help would I offer to others if I felt more self-assured?

Does our low confidence result in a lot of worries, self-absorption and a short fuse?

When we have low self-confidence we can feel like an imposter about our achievements. We may feel our flaws will be revealed. An example I’m thinking of is our Toastmasters Christmas party, everyone is bringing a dish. What should I bring? My repertoire seems so meager compared to people bringing their international dishes. Our insecurities rise at these moments. It’s just a dish, last year I bought something and I knew when I did, it was to avoid putting my dish out there. We can be so busy protecting our fragile self-esteem we miss opportunities to make a good impression. When we accept the challenge to rise to the occasion we often feel better about our self.

We can be so focused on our own thoughts during a conversation we miss the cue the other person is giving us to join in and be part of the group.

The more self-focused we are the more people will see us as self-focused and the more self-focused we become. If we don’t reach out to other people to offer help, encouragement, or conversation other people will quit reaching out to us. When this happens the cycle continues as our low confidence makes us feel we are inherently a horrible selfish person which makes us self-conscious and shame-prone.

A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. Elbert Hubbard

To one degree or another, we all probably feel less self-confident and self-assured than we would like. If we reach out to other people, and they reach out to us we create a network of support and encouragement that encourages personal growth. We all have strengths and weaknesses. When we are feeling at our most vulnerable and insecure it is easy to think we have only weaknesses and other people have only strengths, but this is never true.

Life is a growth experience for each of us. If we put the accent on the positive and push ourselves out of our comfort zone we might surprise our self as we become the person we always wanted to be. Small steps, baby steps, build a life of passion and purpose. We can do almost anything if we take baby steps and persist.

Persistence is more important than talent. We can’t control the amount of talent we were born with, but with persistence, we can develop that talent and make something out of it. We can even do things we don’t have a talent for and with persistence at least become competent. Many people who do public speaking had speech problems. I’m thinking of Steve Harvey whose teacher ridiculed him for saying he wanted to be on TV when he could not speak up in class. He sends her a TV every year so she can watch him.

Is there something we want to do but haven’t done yet? What is holding us back?

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Calvin Coolidge

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