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November, 2002
“Men die of fright
and live of confidence.”
—Thoreau
Finding
Confidence

 

I heard there was a place called Confidence and I so wanted to find it. Others had been there and it showed. Yet I hadn’t found Confidence yet for myself.

I set out only knowing its general direction. Mine was to be an uphill journey.  I drove and drove with nary a clue. At first the road was long and flat with many cars going this way and that. Then it began to rise as I entered the foothills. The altitude reached 1000 feet. The road began to twist and turn.  Soon the sign said I’d reached 2000 feet.  The air was getting thinner. There were far fewer cars. I became short of breath. I passed the 3,000 foot sign. My pace slowed. Yet I pressed on.

I wanted to find Confidence.
I needed  to find Confidence.

I was getting tired. It was getting late. I wondered if I’d ever find it.  I thought my plan had been sound. I knew I was heading in the right direction. But then discouragement began to overtake me.  I reached 4,000 feet. And then I saw it. It wasn’t the sign I was expecting. This sign said I was now approaching…Turnback Creek!

The thoughts of quitting I had been ignoring hit me with the force of a Grizzly Bear.  How elusive Confidence seemed at this moment. Should I turn back? Was my effort futile? Was I hopelessly lost? Would I ever find Confidence?

Indeed this was my moment of truth!

What would it mean if I quit now? Was my effort in vain? What if I was actually close to my goal? Just how important was it for me to find Confidence?  Could I look others in the eye the same way if I looked in the mirror and saw a quitter? It was decision time.

I wavered for what seemed like an hour. It was probably only five to seven minutes, plus or minus thirty seconds. I was giving a speech to myself. Could I convince my audience of one that I should persevere?

I remember having similar doubts when I first joined Toastmasters. After visiting the first time I pondered not coming back. After my first Table Topic — 57 seconds of terror —
I wanted to hide under the table and never resurface. And after my Ice-Breaker I questioned whether I’d ever overcome my fear of public speaking.  It took three weeks for me to return to my second meeting.  Yet in each case I did continue on my journey. However daunting, I persisted in my quest to find Confidence as a communicator.

And so I decided with my own Confidence that I would press on. I would stick to it! Now I had renewed vigor, a stronger resolve, a clear vision of my journey, and an inner Confidence my objective would be met.  I still didn’t know when or how, but I knew I would find this elusive Confidence.

It’s true it’s darkest just before the dawn. And wouldn’t you know it, just a few miles past Turnback Creek I literally found Confidence!

Craig finds Confidence, northeast of Yosemite
in the Sierra mountain range of California.

Welcome to Confidence!

The sign welcomed me: now entering Confidence, California. Altitude: 4200 feet. I know I felt sky high. I found it! I finally found Confidence. It was here all along. I learned that day that you don’t just stumble onto Confidence.  You don’t just reach Confidence. You experience it!

What a feeling to find what you set out to find.

How rewarding to know that one’s toil is ultimately rewarded.

How fulfilling to finally grasp the elusive.

And having now experienced Confidence, I knew I could help others get there too.

The sign said “population: 50.” I was perplexed. Surely there were more than 50 people that had found Confidence.  The locals in the Confidence Café explained that once people found Confidence they could then go anywhere, do anything and be whoever they wanted to be. Many former residents were spreading the spirit of Confidence with others worldwide. And one of the ways they were doing so was through Toastmasters.  

Fellow Toastmasters, Confidence beckons. She awaits you. Embrace her and all things are possible. Let Toastmasters be your guide to finding Confidence.

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