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The Inner Dragon: Confidence

Design.org is here to help creatives and aspiring creatives discover the fierce creativity inside of them, so that they can “create happy” in their lives. Our Unleash Your Inner Dragon manifesto describes the things we believe will help each of us do that, and recently, our blog posts have focused on breaking these beliefs down for deeper understanding. Today, the belief we’re talking about is the belief in confidence.

We believe in confidence.

A dragon is a confident creature. Strong, bold, and sure, a dragon doesn’t second guess itself or try to “go smaller.” Fierce dragons go big. They make big statements and grand gestures. They make their presence known. So make your presence known. Be confident enough to stand up, speak out, and make yourself unignorable. 

How does each of these statements play out in the real world, and in our daily lives? What difference does confidence really make in the life of a creative? Why is developing confidence part of unleashing your inner dragon?

I’ll address each of these questions as I break down the statement from our manifesto.

“A dragon is a confident creature. Strong, bold, and sure…”

In stories, dragons are often portrayed as undefeatable. The dragon doesn’t shy away from its confrontations. It’s not afraid or timid, but instead, knows what it is capable of. It knows its own strength and its own power, and it acts according to that knowledge. 

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”

Dalai Lama

We believe that creative energy can be similarly undefeatable. A powerful idea, in the right hands, is as fierce and as capable as any dragon. The trick is: the creative has to recognize it. They have to reject fear, learn their own strength and their own power, and then take action.  

“…a dragon doesn’t second guess itself or try to ‘go smaller.’”

A fierce dragon doesn’t shrink back from an idea. It won’t adapt its ideas or beliefs to meet the expectations or standards of someone else. In fact, most dragons can’t even be reasoned with. They act instinctually—protecting and defending the things they love, and attacking anything that threatens those things.

Now, I’m not saying you should be unreasonable or ignore logic when it comes to your creative ideas. But I am saying that if there’s something you believe in, don’t shy away from it. Don’t “go smaller” because you’re worried that people won’t accept your “big idea.” Go all in. Trust your instincts. Make adjustments when necessary, but only because you believe it’s the right thing to do for what you’re trying to create. 

“Fierce dragons go big. They make big statements and grand gestures.”

In my experience, most creatives want to change the world. They want to create something that will impact people, that will mean something, that will “create happy” for themselves and for others. But if you want to create big change, you yourself have to go big. You have to commit to having big ideas, making big statements, and taking big action. 

I think it’s important to point out here that there are many different ways to “change the world,” and that “big statements” and “big action” come in many forms. Sure, you might invent the next iPhone, write a chart-topping song, or create an Instagram post that is shared a million times. Or, you might make big changes at home or in your communities; those changes can be just as powerful.

For example, you might:

  • Present a new idea to your kids’ school administration
  • Help a local government candidate with their campaign
  • Speak out when a friend or family member makes a harmful comment
  • Shift your and/or your family’s religious or political stances
  • Share impactful posts on social media

To some, these things might seem small. To others, they may seem impossibly big, overwhelming, or frightening.

Confidence means being willing to go big when you feel, in your heart, that it’s necessary. It means doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. 

“They make their presence known. So make your presence known.”

Dragons aren’t afraid of what others will think of them. They aren’t afraid to be seen living the big life they’ve committed to. 

Unfortunately, many of us are. We’re afraid that if we make our presence known, if we share our big ideas and refuse to “go smaller,” people will think less of us. So we might hide behind an inauthentic idea or persona that we view as “safe.” 

The problem is, when you hide who you are, what you think, and what you can do, the world is missing out on everything that you have to offer. If you don’t make your presence known, how will you ever be able to have the impact you want to have?

Having the confidence to make your presence known is powerful. It is this confidence that allows you to show your true authentic self—big ideas and all—to the world.

“Be confident enough to stand up, speak out, and make yourself unignorable.”

Of course, fierce creativity goes beyond just allowing yourself to be seen. When your creativity is fueled by the fierceness of your inner dragon, it’s a force to be reckoned with. It’s a burning flame that can’t be ignored. 

Be confident enough to share with fierceness. When working to create change and to “create happy” in your life, make your ideas be heard. Share what you have to share. I speak from experience when I say that someone out there is waiting for the thing that you—and only you—can create. They need it. You have it.

Building confidence

One study found that as many as 85% of people struggle with low self-confidence. That means that a vast majority of people are being held back by…themselves. By their own perception of themselves. Chances are, you’re among them.

So what can you do to build the confidence that will help you unleash your inner dragon and create happy?

Change your thoughts.

Another part of our manifesto states: We believe in thoughts, and in the power of thoughts. Our thoughts are what ultimately shape our actions and our lives, and they can also help us build our self confidence. Catching negative self talk, stopping it in its tracks, and replacing it with more positive, useful self talk can help shift your mindset about yourself and what you’re capable of. If you can design thoughts that build confidence, you’ll build confidence.

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Celebrate small wins.

Accomplishment breeds confidence. When we accomplish something, we prove to ourselves that we are powerful and capable. Especially if we accomplish something we once thought impossible, accomplishment can help us develop confidence—but only if we recognize it. At the end of the day, instead of thinking about everything you didn’t get done, think about everything you did. Even this little shift in your thinking can inch you closer to a more confident place.

Do the work.

Being prepared can go a long way in helping you feel confident. Learning, studying, practicing, drafting, rehearsing—it’s all trying, and when you’re trying, you’re winning the battle against fear. The more you know, and the better you know it, the more confident you’ll feel in that area.

Embrace failure.

Failure kills confidence for a lot of people. That makes sense and it’s totally normal, but it also isn’t helpful. What’s more helpful is recognizing failure as part of the process. Don’t let failure convince you to give up prematurely. Instead, recognize failure as a learning opportunity. Realize that you can fail and still be confident in your ability to succeed in the long run. Give yourself credit for trying, and learn to embrace the failure that will inevitably come. 

Know your values.

Knowing what you believe in and what you stand for will give you innate confidence. Be deliberate about defining your values. Think them through. Know why you believe what you believe. Once you do this, you can have confidence in those values, and in your ability to live according to them. You can recognize when you make choices that are in line with your values, and you can give yourself credit for those choices.

Confidence is about knowing who you are and letting yourself be seen. It’s about being willing to go as big as you need to go in order to create the life you want to create. It’s about showing up, putting in the work, changing your thoughts, and letting that fierce creativity out into the world. 

Build confidence in yourself and your ability to “create happy,” with Design.org

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