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Inspiring Confidence with Stories, Stages and Shakkei

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

— Thornton Wilder

It struck me after I’d posted NOT the Only One, that I’d missed one of the REALLY important benefits of sharing our stories – not only do we get to dodge the bullets that others have taken, we also can be inspired by their successes!  Often the path before us is strewn with obstacles, and it’s easy for us to lose sight of the opportunities almost within our grasp.  That’s where other people’s stories can spur us on, give us the confidence to begin, the confidence to carry on.  For instance, if you’ve ever considered picking up your camera and getting “into” photography, check out several photographers’ responses on to the questions: What has inspired you? What is your story? I especially like Mission Man’s response – scroll down to see it:

The condition of humanity inspires me to capture hope, joy as well as the tragedy, misery and suffering we endure as the human race.  What can you do to celebrate humanity?


Of course, it is when we try something new, whether it be photography, drawing, writing, job searching, new teaching techniques, or just coping and finding ways to thrive in our current economy, that confidence becomes an issue.  There’s a management theory that overviews the stages of competency that most of us work through on our way from “clueless” to “expert”.  The four stages are:

  1. Unconscious Competence – aka, Clueless
  2. Conscious Incompetence – aka, Ready to Learn
  3. Conscious Competence – aka, Actively Learning
  4. Unconscious Competence – aka, Expert or Auto Pilot

Which Stage Engenders Confidence?

Some of the most confident people I know are in Stage 1 – they’re clueless about what they don’t know – and their confidence is, in my not so humble opinion, false.  Still, it may be what they need to carry them until they can become more competent at whatever life demands of them.

My best guess is in Stage 2, when we’re wakening to our “incompetence,” we simply need confidence in our own ability to learn!  PattiAnn’s post Living With Confidence reminds us to assert that confidence:

It’s time that we remember all that we have learned and how well we have coped when things were bleak.  We have done this before – not in exactly the same way – but we have survived/thrived and we will again.

And of course, Stage 3 is where we accumulate confidence in our competency – we earn it through trial and error and eventually we become so confident that we phase right into Stage 4 and begin to function on autopilot.  At that point, our confidence is assumed rather than something we’re aware of.

Mountains of Confidence and Inspiration

In honor of our national Thanksgiving holiday, on Wednesday, I moodled about Shakkei, which is the Japanese art of Borrowing Mountains.  I like to believe that all of us, regardless of the hardships and/or joys we may currently be experiencing, are graced with beauty and inspiration throughout our lives.  Some days we may have to look harder to find those blessings but I do know that when I’ve made the effort to look for it, I’ve found beauty abounding:  A friend calls to see how you’re doing…  a neighbor makes the effort to garland her gate for Thanksgiving…  a fellow-student shares a huge bag of limes from their backyard tree… a young person brings your paper to the door or walks your trash cans back to your garage… an acquaintance sends an email with jokes and, of course, happy photos of favorite people remind us of happy times… we have, even in the midst of great angst and great blessings, much to be thankful for…  Becca of created an interesting list of things she’s thankful for:

  • The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
  • My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
  • The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.
  • All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
  • That lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.
  • The piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.
Have you counted your blessings this week?  If not, what are you waiting for???  Do it NOW.

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