Comfort & Confidence
Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice has become recognised as a seminal work about discrimination and bias during her times. Expressed with the lightness of a feather and the whip of a rapier, Miss Austen deliciously dissected the decadence of the social system while keeping a wide eye open for the funny bits. Noel Coward claimed that he had a talent to amuse. Miss Austen, had she been the claiming type – which she most definitely was not – might have wanted the soubriquet that she had a talent to bemuse. What a gift.
She certainly influenced many writers, this one included. So I thank her for the concept of Comfort & Confidence and take a brief look at the relationship between the two. At first glance it might seem to be tenuous. Glance again and it looks more important than that. “I’m not comfortable with the behaviour of the Chair” expressed by a member at a Board meeting would bring the Chair to account faster than any other criticism short of an arrest. “Our relationship is comfortable now” as a comment on the aftermath of a quarrel is a closure many would be happy to have.
Comfort is not only to do with feeling well or having good seats at the opera. It is an attitude towards oneself, a state of mind that allows us to handle things with aplomb. Even physical discomfort makes us uncertain, edgy, irritable and generally ‘out of sorts’. So comfort is not exclusively mental, it involves a good deal of physical, too. Think of it this way. When you settle down to sleep, wherever you are, you fit yourself snugly into you bed adjusting pillows and blankets to give you that well-being feeling that will send you swiftly to dreamland.
As a good driver you ‘settle’ into a car before starting the engine or attempting to move off. Adjusting seat belt, mirrors, reminding yourself of the layout of the instruments, checking fuel and oil and so on – all this in aid of making you comfortable so that your driving will be smooth and firm. Or, as we say, Comfortable & Confident. You know a good driver within seconds of getting into his or her car. You know if anyone is uncomfortable and lacking confidence the minute you meet them.
Comfort & Confidence exhibit in other ways, too. You may have noticed that the busiest people have time for you. The less employed are always ‘too busy’ to help. Everyone works harder in the first three months after retirement than they ever did while in their job. They have lost their support group and emotionally wander as though through a forest of charred trees after a fire. There are few things more debilitating to a leader than to lose his or her job. That is why we always sympathise with a downfaller. It could so easily – or may already – have been us.
Those seeking to be confident will need more than comfort. But they will only achieve confidence if they get themselves into a state of comfort first. It doesn’t require wealth. It requires that you are able to answer these five questions honestly and positively:
# However nervous I feel before an event in which I am going to take part, do I join in and contribute to it once I am there?
# In a meeting with several people more senior than me, am I able to find one important point that matters and battle for it rather than appear to niggle about everything?
# When I have to fire someone can I put them at ease, understand the importance of helping to maintain their dignity (regardless of the reason for firing them) and make a sympathetic offer?
# When I have failed through poor judgment on my part, am I able to say so, to seek guidance and help, and to put it behind me after a suitable time of reflection?
# When someone I care deeply about is unresponsive can I avoid argument and nagging and tell them they are valuable and loved?
If you hesitate on a few of them, think of making a concerted effort to put your Confidence in the sensitive hands of Comfort.
You will sleep easier, wake fresher and make better judgments.
Terrific Mentors International has a special programme to make the ‘less comfortable’ more comfortable. If you’d like to learn about it please email [email protected].