You know that feeling you get when you’ve been dreaming of something for years and you finally get it? That lovely welling up of gratitude, appreciation and love! That is what I felt when my husband gave me the Vespa I had always wanted for a milestone birthday. I was excited beyond belief when they delivered it to our house.
“Do you know how to drive this?” the delivery man asked. When I told him I didn’t have a clue and asked him to please give me instructions, I should have realized that 5 minutes wasn’t going to be enough. He made it look so easy.
After he left, the VESPA was sitting in the middle of the driveway and I decided to move it out of the way. I mean, how hard could it be, right? I stood beside it, turned the key, hit the throttle full on, and immediately lost control. My brand new bike, with not even 1 mile on the speedometer, flipped over on its side and one of the mirrors broke off. The bike was scarred and so was I.
I was heartbroken… and scared stiff to drive it.
The Vespa sat for 2 years. Yup, 2 full years. I wanted to drive it but I lacked confidence. I felt like such a loser. Seriously, it was a scooter and I was afraid to even get on it.
I speak at conferences all the time about self-trust, but I didn’t connect what I talk about with what was happening within me. The Vespa made me feel incompetent and guilty, and those feelings didn’t help build positive trust in myself.
I started questioning my ability in other areas. If you’re rolling your eyes, I don’t blame you - I was doing that myself. It was looking at my goals and vision that gave me a wake up call. If I couldn’t succeed at this, how could I possibly succeed at bigger goals?
So this summer, heart in hand, I signed up for a motorcycle class. I was a little concerned that I would be the oldest one in the class (I was) and that I would feel out of place and uncomfortable (I didn’t). Within the first few minutes all of us rookie motorcycle wannabes had bonded. Within the first day we were starting our motorcycles and driving them around in a circle. At the end of the week I had a motorcycle license. Whoopee! I was ready.
When I got home, my husband was pleased. “You’re finally going to ride your bike!”
I know… you’re thinking this is where I tell you I got on the VESPA and drove it 100 miles through a storm and didn’t flinch.
That didn’t happen. I still felt frightened when I looked at my scooter, even after the time on the motorcycles. So, the first day I went out and sat on the seat for 10 minutes, and then I walked back inside. The second day I turned the bike on, and sat there without moving it. The third day I drove it to the end of the driveway. It took a full week before I had the confidence to drive it out on the street.
Building self-trust is like learning any new skill. You build trust by gaining confidence in doing something well. And you do something well by practicing and working at it. I’m happy to tell you I’m riding my Vespa on a regular basis. I’m still staying pretty close to my neighborhood, but as my trust in my own ability builds, the distance I travel grows. Isn’t that just like life?
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