Meeting profs are learning to soar again exceptional

Editor’s Note: If setbacks are the springboard to success, meeting professionals are poised to win the gold. Annie Meehan, author of Be the Exception: Your 7 Steps to Transformation and a dynamic keynote speaker, has lived a challenging life and still found much to be grateful for. We asked her to share her secrets to recovery.

The difference between confidence and arrogance is knowing what I am good at and holding my head high to speak clearly about what I do well, but never saying I am better than others. Arrogance is when we think we are the best and brag about being better. It comes from a place of insecurity, thinking that someone else’s goodness or happiness will in some way take away from your own greatness.

Confidence is being able to find your strengths, gifts, talents and abilities and walking through life knowing just how worthy you are. It doesn’t come from a place of comparison or trying to drag anyone else down. Confident people know that everyone is great at something, even if they don’t realize it, and it is because we’re all great at different things that the world is a wonderful place!

Confidence also gives us the strength of be yourself—truly yourself, all of yourself—and that is authenticity.

Confidence is not something that you automatically wake up having; it generally takes years to build up. It is knowing you are lovable; it’s how you find true happiness. Here are a few of the seven steps for being the exception.

Step 1: Be open. Accept the love and encouragement that others offer you. After all, it’s the people around you who see how exceptional you are, even when you don’t. They want to help you, to boost you up to your potential. You never know when you’re going to meet someone who sees something in you and offers a new beginning. This can open some amazing doors for you that might kickstart a life of exceptional living. (I know because it happened to me when I was 17 and The Oprah Winfrey Show contacted The Bridge for Runaway Youth to find a person who was a great example of becoming an exception. But that is a story for another time.)

We don’t all have the opportunity to have our confidence boosted by Oprah, but we do all have the opportunity to listen to those around us, those who love us, those who care enough to be honest with us and trust what they see. Let other people help you along in your journey because once you see what you need to strengthen and what you need to celebrate, you’ll be able to be authentic with who you are.

Asking for help really is the key to success, whether you do it fairly regularly or only occasionally. It keeps you from hurting yourself and others by trying to handle everything alone. It also keeps you humble and aware that you are not perfect. You need others, as we all do.

Step 2: Don’t let toxic relationships bring you down. Negative people may try to make their truth your own. The hardest thing to overcome may be getting over the negative voices from childhood. It can be difficult to forgive, to heal, to let go and rewrite the tapes. Sometimes it just takes time and clear boundaries. It isn’t always easy, and some days it doesn’t work, but at some point you get to where you rewrite the rules so you can choose to be happy.

Step 3: Be honest. If you have known great sadness, you have the capability to know great joy. You can greet each day with a real smile because you are making a conscious decision be worthy of the effort you put into this life.

The quiet times are when you can slow down and figure out what to do and how to move forward. First, acknowledge the lie you may be telling yourself (about the meetings industry, your limitations or the world), recognize the truth and then move forward.

Step 4: Shine positivity into the lives of others. Freedom means being yourself instead of someone you think you have to be. It means showing up and giving all that you have and still continuing to grow every day.