Fear… of yourself
Overcoming your deepest fear is an essential part of becoming truly confident. This is the conclusion that Dina Kaplan, Founder and CEO of The Path, came to after struggling with her own self-image in both her personal and professional life. It was also the message she conveyed at the Reykjavik Global Forum – Women Leaders in November 2019. Learning to accept oneself, rather than conform to the expectations of others, is an important stop on the path to achieving happiness and success.
Ms. Kaplan’s biggest fear has always been herself. This fear stems from childhood experiences of being bullied at summer camp; experiences that prompted her to train her social skills with the intention of being popular at the expense of all else. Throughout high school, and college, it worked, although she found herself reluctant to speak her mind.
Time to start over
Soon however, she discovered the negative consequences of the persona that she had adopted. Upon founding her first tech startup, Ms. Kaplan learned that her “obsession with being liked absolutely didn’t work and didn’t scale as the company scaled.” She found herself unable to give negative feedback to her team, and unwilling to make demands of her co-founders. This, unsurprisingly, rendered her unable to effectively manage her business.
On the outside everything seemed okay: she was living a comfortable life, holding a lucrative job and was “held up as a role model for women entrepreneurs.” Yet, she felt like she was playing a role. This, in combination with crippling panic attacks that scarcely allowed her to walk in public or take public transport, meant she was, in her own words, “a mess.” When her lifestyle finally became too overwhelming, she decided it was time for a fundamental change.
Immediately, she left her company and, six days later, flew to Bali. After exploring South-East Asia, she decided to go on a meditation retreat in India. Deep introspection prompted an immense revelation: instead of adhering to her vow to ‘be popular,’ she instead needed to be herself. For Ms. Kaplan, it required a dramatic life change and two week meditation retreat in Spartan conditions. For others, she resolved, this conclusion should be easier.
Her experience inspired her to found The Path, a company that teaches meditation to professionals, in an effort to help them become themselves. Overcoming fear and learning to be courageous in oneself begins from two simple steps, according to Ms. Kaplan: 1) asking yourself what you truly want and 2) asking for help when necessary. Although the keys to unlocking self-confidence are different for everyone, it is critical to overcome our greatest enemy: our own fear.