3 Signs You’re Mismanaging Your Insecurities


As his kindergarten classmates were selected to receive stickers for their behavior that day, my son waited with anticipation. Name after name was read. The group he sat with on the floor grew smaller and smaller. When there were just eight of them left, his heart sank as he realized it: He would not be picked.

“I hate my school,” he said to my wife in the car on the way home.

I admit it. I know that feeling of disappointment all too well.

Recently, I was facilitating a meeting with a company’s senior leadership team. A couple of the leaders didn’t like my style. They let the CEO know how they felt, and that was enough for him to end this budding new relationship with me. I felt misunderstood and rejected.

crumpled bill

I wish I could care deeply for other people while not caring at all what they think of me. But I’m human. When I am afraid you think I’m incompetent, I feel insecure. And insecurity reduces my effectiveness.

Some say the fear of appearing incompetent in front of peers is greater than the fear of public speaking. The recent study on How Leaders Grow Today suggests that leaders need to continuously strengthen their confidence in order to thrive in an increasingly insecure world. Here are three signs we’re dealing with our insecurity the wrong way:

1. We’re distracting ourselves. We find many ways to numb the pain of fear and rejection. When we anesthetize our insecurity, though, we don’t allow ourselves to learn how to process the insecurity in healthy ways or condition ourselves to work through the pain of growth. And we don’t experience the full joy of times when we do feel secure.

2. We’re ignoring it. I learned well as a teenager how to act brave. I learned how to protect myself by ignoring all the ways I might be rejected. Ignorance may be bliss but it also results in a lack of self-awareness and humility. As the president of a training organization, I’ve often said that money and time really aren’t the primary objections to training. It’s usually a lack of perceived need to improve.

3. Were believing we deserve it. One evening last week my wife brought a crisp twenty dollar bill to the dinner table. She asked our boys what it was worth. They gave the correct answer. She then crumpled it up, threw it on the ground and stomped on it. (The boys were horrified.)

She picked it back up, smoothed it out and held it up. She asked the boys again what it was worth. With joyful smiles they said, “Twenty dollars!” She then reminded them (and me) that we all have times when we feel thrown aside, crumpled and stomped on, but it doesn’t change how much we are worth.

No one is free from insecurity. It’s part of being human. But we can find ways to better manage it and learn something from it.

Where’s your insecurity and how are you finding ways to productively manage it?

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