Boss Lady

How to be bold when you are naturally shy


When you are someone who is quieter than most or identify as shy in personality, it can be easy to misinterpret this as being reluctant or less confident in other areas of life.

Growing up socially awkward and painfully shy, I found it hard to speak up for myself and express my thoughts, even with those I was close to. However, as I grew up, I noticed that my actions and choices could speak volumes.

No matter how naturally shy you are, you can still be bold. In fact, you may already be a lot bolder than you think!

Here are four elements of true boldness and how you can embrace and cultivate them in your own life:

Bold is trusting yourself

Have you ever had moments where you just knew what to do, and followed through? Being bold is being willing to ask, “What choice do I have?” and trusting that you will know what to do, even if the situation is unfamiliar or unexpected, rather than assuming you don’t know or can’t know.

Trusting my instincts is what allowed me to attain my commercial pilot’s license. To pass, you must confidently complete certain aircraft maneuvers. One of these maneuvers is a mid-air Steep turn which involves turning the aircraft (left or right) into a 45-degree bank (angle of the wing) while simultaneously maintaining the altitude to complete a 180-degree turn. On the day, with my examiner as co-pilot, I began my Steep turn to the left – and the door of the aircraft swung open mid-air! I quickly considered my choices. I knew I could complete the move safely, so I did, then asked my instructor to take the controls while I shut the door.

I’d had no time to think, but I trusted myself and calmly handled the situation. If you have ever done this – you are bold! 

Bold is having presence of mind

Shyness is a definition we can often mistake as limitation or weakness, rather than capacity or ability. But being present is often something that quiet people excel at! While they are not talking, they are observing, learning, asking questions and becoming aware of the choices they have, that others may not easily see.

I realised I had this ability when I had to complete a short-field landing maneuver for landing on small runways or clearings. Twice, I came in at high speed and too high to pull it off easily, changing to a mid-air take off and Go-around. On my third attempt, my instructor told me to do the short-field landing on an alternative runway, which I did well. At this point, I was sure I’d flunked the test. But the instructor had a different point of view: Firstly, I didn’t panic. I was present. Secondly, I had made the safety of aircraft and passengers paramount, rather than forcing a bad landing. He told me these qualities are exactly what is needed in an excellent pilot.

What qualities does your shyness give you that are actually boldness in disguise? 

Bold is never giving up

Not giving up when it would be easy to do so is one of the boldest moves you can make.

Imagine getting lost in mid-air, knowing only that you had entered a no-fly zone where you could potentially collide with another aircraft. I did this once while flying solo, and in that moment, I truly panicked, with nothing but air and only myself to rely on. I could have given into the panic, but I decided not to quit on myself just yet. I asked, “What can I do?” and realised that I could just turn the plane 180 degrees and fly back the way I came! I was able to find my bearings and correct my route.

Have you ever come across a situation when you didn’t have all the answers, but you somehow found a way? Being bold is when you never give up on you or possibilities you have available, even when it might feel like there is no way out.

Bold is believing in you and never letting judgment win

When you have ideas about greater possibilities in your life and business do you jump head first, or do you think about all the things that could go wrong, or how you couldn’t possibly achieve it?

The only thing truly stopping you from being as bold as you can be is the judgements you allow to hold you back – whether they are judgments others have about you, or that you have come to believe about yourself.

To be the boldest you can be, you must let go of judgements and believe in yourself.

Through my experiences, I learned that judgment is just a limit we can choose or not choose. We always have the power to stop judging ourselves and buying into the judgements of others. I learned to question every judgement about me and around me. The more I questioned, the more I realised all those doubts, criticisms and judgements were not real, and that I could be myself and choose for myself, beyond all of them!

There is more than one way of stepping out of the box and being bold. Start by acknowledging the boldness you’ve had all along – and then keep going! When you recognise that boldness is far more than having an extroverted personality or being socially confident, you’ll realise that natural shyness truly is no obstacle to greatness.

About Smriti Goswami

Smriti Goswami is a business mentor, life coach and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs, including Being You. She is a certified FAA Commercial Pilot, experienced glider pilot and co-owner of Mumbai organisation, ArtEscapades. A talented athlete and adventure sportswoman, Smriti successfully completed an intensive SCUBA course with the Indian Naval Diving Team in her youth – one of just eight girls in a gathering of 600 participants. A committed advocate for women’s empowerment, she offers individual consultations and classes around the world, empowering people to think out of the box and follow their dreams.

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