What do I do when I lose my confidence?
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

It has happened to all of us at some point. We lose our confidence. We become unsure of ourselves. We do not know what to do next. We doubt our ability to succeed.

For me, it has happened many times. In those instances, I lose my bearings. I lose sense of what to do next. I go off by myself and begin to wonder, “Now what?” It can be scary, unsettling, and overwhelming.

It happened to me when I first arrived at MACNY. I had been a successful leader many times. I could do it again – or so I thought. How different could it be than the last few successful organizations or teams I had led? A lot – l learned! We started to stumble as an organization. Key people left. Our budget turned to a deficit. I got scared. I was confused. What was I supposed to do now? I had lost my confidence. I felt I was all alone.

So, what did I do? It is not an easy task to regain confidence. When you start to see your efforts fail it can be unnerving. I would try new things. They would fail too. I started to show I was uncertain. I didn’t know the answers anymore. People, I thought, expected that from me. I was wrong – in so many ways.

The best thing to do when you lose your confidence is to seek help. You can seek it from so many people – you just have to ask. I thought it would show I was weak. I thought others would judge me. I was wrong. Person after person offered to listen to me and help me. I was utterly amazed. Were all these people always here to help me? Yup. I just hadn’t been vulnerable enough to ask. The first person I went to was my boss at MACNY, John Rizzo. He was Chairman of the Board at the time and President of a small manufacturing company. I was scared to death to admit I had no clue what to do next. So, I confessed my confusion and asked him what he would do. Do you know what he said? A hint – it was not “you’re fired.”

He paused when I asked him for help and said, “I will help you in any way I can.” Wow. That was a lot easier than I thought. Next, he said, “You also should know that I do not have the answers, but I know they exist.” Then he challenged me, “Are you willing to admit to others you need their help?” That was a tough one, I wanted to be independent and seen as successful. But not knowing how to fix my situation, I agreed to be vulnerable and ask for even more help from many others. In order to learn how to do that, John suggested I hire an Executive Coach to help me learn what I did not know and grow. This has been one of the best things I have ever done. I still have one I meet with once a month – and have for over 15 years.

To regain confidence, we often need to be successful again. And, that means changing what we do. Change is hard – especially when you do not even know what to change. Others will help us know what to do and give us the courage to be successful over time. There are no quick fixes to regaining our confidence. It is a journey back. It’s a daily journey of relearning what works.

I have never forgotten the kindness of others when I have lost my confidence. It has allowed me to find success in so many areas. Otherwise, I am sure I would have failed. We are thriving now at MACNY – and have grown the organization, have served many members, and have had surpluses in our budget for over a decade. Why? I now stay vulnerable. I know I do not know the answers. I want to change and help others use their talents to make us wildly successful. I have confidence in my new skills – helping others lead, helping them grow, and helping organizations thrive. And, I truly love it!

Has there been a time when you have lost your confidence? What did you do to get it back? Have others come to you when they have lost their confidence? How did you help them? We can learn from these experiences like no others. When we lose our confidence, we are scared and confused. Finding our way back can be so amazing. Helping others regain their confidence is even more rewarding. When you see someone who has lost their confidence, pull them aside and tell them you are there to help. As you do, share you own experiences. It is a life-saver for those you care about.