When I was a young man, not infrequently, I found myself concerned about my lack of confidence. Discussing this with my contemporaries, many indicated they had a similar problem. But as the years passed, my confidence level grew. Besides increased confidence, something else happened as I grew older. Younger people began asking me for advice. More often than not, they, like me earlier, were struggling with their confidence.
The first thing I always ask these people is, “Are you setting goals?” They usually responded affirmatively, but volunteer that they have great difficulty achieving their goals. I explain that someone who is unable to attain goals is going to lose self-confidence rapidly. Conversely, succeeding is synonymous with increasing confidence. The next comment inevitably goes something like this, “I understand that, but how can I do a better job of achieving my goals?”
I then share an anecdote, which has been helpful to me. It goes like this:
When we set a goal we are enthusiastic and we sincerely want to achieve it. It’s like driving our car on a road. We are driving along happily toward the goal. The goal is at the end of the road and there is nothing between us and the goal.
Suddenly we come upon a roadblock, which prevents us from continuing our drive. Since we are determined to reach the goal, we get out of the car to see how we can get past the roadblock. We try to move the logs, but they are too heavy. At this point we lose our cool. We blame others for our predicament; perhaps we swear a little and maybe even cry a bit. How can we be so unlucky?
The road to success
In desperation we look to the left and see a road with no roadblocks leading to a new goal. Without realizing it, we make that left turn, and at first it feels so good to be rid of all the frustration. However, in a little while, we see another roadblock. We think back on how we solved the problem the last time. Before we know it, we make another left turn to reach yet another new goal, only to discover yet another roadblock. When we make our next left turn we are headed back to our starting point. In my opinion, when people say, “I feel like my life is going around in circles,” they have made too many left turns.
The question is, “Where did we go wrong?” Obviously it was at the first roadblock. To avoid the left turn, when I reach that roadblock, I take out my heart and throw it over the barrier. With my heart on the other side, its recovery becomes a matter of life and death.
So I hire a helicopter, it takes my car and me over the roadblock. I recover my heart and am back driving towards my goal.
“Look at me, I did It!”
Unfortunately, in most cases many more roadblocks do appear, but each time I throw my heart across the roadblock, each time I recover it. And then one day I reach my goal, and I shout at the top of my lungs, “Hey world look at me, I did it!” At that point my self-confidence grows and I realize there is no better feeling than accomplishing a difficult goal.
Thomas John Wolff, CLU, ChFC, served as 1979-1980 president of NALU (NAIFA). A member of MDRT since 1958, he is a recipient of the John Newton Russell Award. He is a member of Hartford AIFA (Conn.). His address is P.O. Box H, Vernon CT 06066.