David and Goliath
Man lives for and lives on praises. Goswami Tulsidas
Around 1000 BC in the Valley of Elah, the people of Israel and Philistia (today part of Egypt-Israel-Palestine) were locked in terrible war. No end was in sight until the towering Goliath offered a bold challenge to end the deadlock between the armies. “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other,” he shouted.
For forty days, not one soldier stepped forward, including the king of Israel himself, Saul. If Goliath was driven by ego and arrogance, the Israelites were paralysed by fear and doubt.
Then one day came young David. He was a visiting shepherd with three brothers in the army. David heard Goliath’s challenge, and unlike the entire army, cowering in fear, he was confident that he could fight Goliath and win. Would we say he was crazy? Maybe. How could he possibly think he could beat someone so big?
“When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep form the flock,” David said to his brothers, “I went after it, struck it, and rescue the ship from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it, and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this Philistine will be like one of them.”
David's confidence arose from experience, not ego. He had been through worse and done it with his bare hands.
David knew his strengths, but he also knew his weaknesses. “I cannot go in these,” he said after trying on a soldier’s armour, “because I am not used to them.” He was ready to proceed with what we could cool true self-awareness (and of course, faith).
How did Goliath respond to this tiny challenger? Like a typical bully: He laughed. “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” Goliath shouted. “Come here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!”
His vanity would be short-lived.
David came at Goliath at a full sprint, a sling in one hand and a few stones from the river in the other. In those few quick seconds, Goliath must've seen the confidence in David’s eyes and been afraid for the first time - and before he could do anything, he was dead. Felled by the stone flung expertly from David’s sling. His head cut off by his own sword.
The story of these two combatants may be true. It may be a myth. But it remains one of the best stories we have about the dangers of ego, the importance of humility, and a necessity of confidence.
Life is lonely and painful for the man or woman driven by ego. It could be Donald Trump in the White House at night, his wife and son far away, in his bathrobe, ranting about on Twitter. It could be have a good friend, Alexander the Great, drunk again, fighting and killing his best friend over a stupid argument, thinking of nothing but the next conquest. Or, it could be Howard Hughes, trapped in his mansion, manically excited about some crazy project.
All successful, yes, but would you want to trade places with them?
This toxic form of ego also has a less-assuming evil twin - imposter syndrome.
This is a nagging, endless anxiety that you are not qualified for what you are doing - and you are about to be found out for it. This insecurity almost entirely exist in our heads. The truth is people aren't thinking about you. They have their own problems to worry about.
Confident people know what matters. They know when to ignore other peoples opinions. They don't supposed to like to get ahead. Confidence is the freedom to set your own standards and unshackle yourself from the need to prove yourself. A confident person doesn't fear disagreement and doesn't see change.
Ego, on the other hand, is unsettled by doubts, afflicted by arrogance, exposed by its own boasting and posturing. And yet it will not probe itself - or allow itself to be probed - because it knows what might be found.
In his principle teachings Bhagwan Shri Swaminarayan describes ego through a bone analogy:
A dog takes a dry bone to an isolated place t chew on. As a result of the chewing, its mouth is abraded and the bone becomes covered in blood. Then licking the bone, the dog becomes overjoyed. But little does the fool realise, ‘The taste that I am enjoying is that of the blood from my own mouth.’
Confident people are open, reflective, and able to see themselves clearly.
Where are you on the spectrum?
They're going to be setbacks in life, accept it.
If you're going to be miserable every time things are not going your way, you will not enjoy it when things are going your way because you undermine it without an insecurity. Life will become a living hell.
And I agree, there is no such thing as 100% confidence - we will waver, we will have doubts. But still, we need to look for the calm among the chaos.
Don't feed insecurity.
Don’t feed delusions of grandeur. Be confident. Because you've earned it.