Confidence leads to courage.  I used to believe that. Master a skill, figure out exactly what to say, and you will act.

Trouble is, those skills take a long time to find and master. In the meantime, you are frozen in time.

An incident at a conference a few years ago changed my mind about the sequence.

The conference was held in Arizona, at a hotel on whose grounds rabbits proliferated. It was delightful to walk to the morning sessions, watching them play.

One day, while coming back, I saw three little boys chasing them, surrounding and cornering them. The rabbits were running every which way, in terror. To a passionate animal lover, this was unacceptable.

What they were going to do next, I’ll never know, because I started chasing the boys, screaming at the top of my lungs, “Stay away from those rabbits.” For a polite, stay-out-of the-spotlight introvert (me), this was unprecedented behavior.

A large adult male, presumably associated with the boys, came looming out of a nearby room and shouted, repeatedly, “They’re only rabbits.”   He was far larger than I, and had that widened posture that males affect when they are feeling, well, powerful. Rather than frightening me, this infuriated me more so I continued to scream at him and the boys. 

They did go away. (The boys and man; I expect the rabbits got out of there pretty quickly too.)

When I went back to the evening session, the man sitting behind me said, “Were you the woman yelling at the boys who were chasing the rabbits?”

With some apprehension, I replied “Yes.” 

He continued, “At first I thought you were crazy.” (Thanks a lot; that is the fear that keeps many of us from acting.)

But he continued: “Then, I realized you were right and you were very brave. I COULDN’T DO THAT.” He called me “brave”!

And that’s a key for all you introverts out there who fear the judgment of others. So many of them are judging you because they couldn’t do it. They are incredulous that you can. That realization alone can bring you comfort.

I have never forgotten that incident and it fueled me to take more and more social chances from then on.

Do you have a somewhat audacious idea? Speak out lest someone else propose it first and get the credit. Are you burning with thoughts to communicate but held back by fear? Do you believe people will scorn you for speaking up? Remember, they couldn’t do it.

Act on your passion wholeheartedly, without so much fear about the judgment. Passion? I know introverts are filled with it, mostly inside. We can burn with ideas that would transform the world, or at least the world around us. But we don’t dare to act on them, so we remain forever invisible, or at least subliminal, and no one ever knows of that fire inside. Now that’s truly scary.

The courage will come, because courage leads to confidence.

Lynette Crane, an acclaimed national speaker and coach for introverts, is CEO of Quiet Brilliance Consulting LLC. Find her books, The Confident Introvert (Gain the skills to overcome shyness and low self-esteem while remaining true to yourself) and her newest book, Quiet Brilliance: Solving Corporate America’s Leadership Crisis with ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ Talent, on Amazon.

©2019, Lynette Crane, Quiet Brilliance Consulting LLC