My son, Landon, is 22 years old. He just graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May this year (actually the same day of my commencement from Pepperdine University, but that’s another story!). I had the pleasure, the HONOR, of having a telephone conversation with him recently that lasted well over an hour. It definitely made my heart happy to have that much uninterrupted time with him and we got to have a really deep conversation. My intent is to share with you part of what we discussed.
He opened up and talked about the future and how he’s trying to figure out how to apply and what to say during interviews. He relayed that he’s nervous about applying and finding his first “real” job; and basically jumping into the big, scary world of adulthood. He is in the process of completing a Healthcare Information Technology certificate in a UT program that began after he graduated with his bachelor’s degree; therefore, he stayed in Austin. He finishes the program on July 29, and the world is open to him and whatever he decides to do. It’s exciting. It’s scary. It’s life.
My son is a lot like me. He loves school. It’s where we excel, where we flourish, where we are secure, where we are safe. I understand the comfort of security and what it feels like when that comfort is ending.
I asked Landon what he feared about the great big world; and he responded that he was unsure of the unknown. He doesn’t know where he will live, where he will get a job; or where he will finally settle down in life. He knows what company he wants to work for but he said it’s extremely competitive.
There’s so much that I thought of during that conversation. For one, I was thinking of all the places that my “baby” may go; and how he’s really leaving the nest (which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong!). Parenting an adult child is so strange and different. However, the thought also occurred to me how we all deal with what I like to call ‘Swiss Cheese Confidence’.
What I mean by that is that there are certain things in life that we are absolutely, without any doubt, positively confident in. We know with complete certainty that we are skilled in handling specific situations. For Landon and me, we are both confident in our abilities to conquer academic settings. However, we cannot be career students for the rest of our lives. We must go beyond our comfort zone to develop confidence in settings that are different than what we are used to. Those are the holes in our “Swiss cheese”, or our confidence.
It would be easy for us all to go through life and only focus on ways to validate our confidence in the areas that we are strong in. There is possibly a lot of temptation to only do what we are good at or what is familiar to us. I would guess that it makes us feel good, or accomplished.
But I encourage you to try new things—even things that may be hard for you and get you out of your comfort zone. Stepping out on a ledge and taking a risk will help you fill the holes of your confidence.
After all, that is the only way we grow.
I have a friend that has a boss that she absolutely cannot stand; however, her boss happens to own the company, so my guess is that he’s not leaving any time soon. She constantly complains about her job, but it’s easy for her, she knows the systems, and she sets her own schedule. She is sacrificing her employment happiness by staying in a position where she is confident in her abilities, as opposed to going out into the great big world and trying to learn something new.
I believe the biggest enemy we have, really, is comfort and complacency. It allows for us to be in a position where growth is not only not encouraged, but often viewed with fear. So, just for today, I challenge you to do something new, something that doesn’t come easy. Make a commitment to get out of your own way; take a step toward accomplishing something that requires a little bit of thought, effort, or fear. You can do it… and then tell me about it!