Confidence often seems to go along with success in the art world—when talking about the business side of things, qualities like self-assurance, decisiveness, and the ability to speak well about your work are important. In the studio, confidence may take a more private form—the ability to try new things, or to carry through with major projects. While there’s no doubt that confidence is a good thing, many artists feel they fall short of having it. Today we’re going to talk about confidence in a somewhat philosophical way that may help see it more broadly.
In this episode we reference a book by a Tibetan Buddhist monk, In Love with the World, by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche about a spiritual journey in which he cast off his status and the trappings his esteemed position and wandered in India for several years without any resources, no money or possessions. He wrote, "To be confident you have to accept impermanent conditions." This is the opposite of the way most of us think about confidence, as a quality that results from knowing what to expect. But really, we do not ever truly know what lies ahead; we are always dealing with the unknown. Past successful experience can give us a sense of confidence but things can always turn out differently.
Many of us have developed aspects of ourselves that show true confidence but may we may not recognize them as such. All of us have met and dealt with adversity in our lives, and the ability to adapt and cope with whatever comes along is important to confidence. Confidence also encompasses a sense of trust when things are rough; going ahead even when you feel anxious. It means being prepared for what you can control but understanding that our personal control is limited. And finally, it means understanding how to support --and accept support-- from others. Confidence is a composite of many qualities that we practice all the time in daily life, rather than something that we either have, or we don't.
As artists, confidence comes through in our willingness to try new things, to be flexible, to remain true to our own vision, trusting in our art process, and to find balance with our goals and expectations.
Book mentioned in today's episode: In Love with the World, by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.
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