Everybody recognises a formidable person when they see one. It’s somebody you have no doubt will achieve what they set out to achieve. They have unstoppable momentum. Nothing that gets in their way will stay there very long. You just know that these people are supremely confident in and competent at what they do. They’ll get the job done.
I’m not formidable, at least not consistently and all the time, as much as I try to be and would like to be, but I think I have occasional moments where I can appear to be formidable. Being formidable means that you look like you know what you’re about and how to get it done. It doesn’t mean you’re somebody that looks for the short cut or how to short change somebody. Rather, a formidable person is a force of nature, prepared to go the long way around, if that’s what it takes to get the lasting achievement. They’re not afraid of hard work, but people believe that a formidable person can get the work done. They’re true to their word. You mess with somebody formidable at your peril.
Being formidable is a useful thing, because it means you get your most cherished projects done, while doing your very best work in the process. People support you in your endeavours, because they have the sense that magic is latent and just about to happen, where you are concerned. You are a person of pure possibility delivered.
So how do you become formidable? Firstly, you have to recognise that it’s a choice you make. You choose to make yourself formidable; you don’t accidentally become formidable or are born that way. We’re all born clumsy and incompetent, unfocused and capable of unleashing all sorts of unintentional havoc. The first step is to take yourself in hand and decide that you are going to be graceful, competent, focused and capable of feats of unbelievable, amazing achievement. That’s the mind set.
The next step is to become competent. You need the skills and you need to hone them, through purposeful, constant practice. Get good at what you do. Be good enough that it’s second nature and so that you can confidently execute whatever it is you set your mind to doing. Put in your ten thousand hours. Be the expert in the field.
But that’s not enough. There are thousands, if not millions, of highly skilled technicians and practitioners. That doesn’t make them formidable. It’s a necessary, but not sufficient condition. To become formidable, there is something else you need to do.
You have to care about what you do. Intensely. It has to be a passion. You need to immerse yourself in it, so that anybody that knows you realises that you know your stuff, inside and out and that you have a fire in the belly that will compel and propel you to success in your chosen field. If the passion takes you along difficult, risky, uncertain pathways, then so be it. You can rely on your grace, your skills and your intense belief to guide you through. People can see that. They can sense your deep personal commitment. They latch onto it. They feel safe and secure in your hands. You can get things done, because people are damned sure you’re capable of getting them done and so, they add their support to your project and aid you in your task, rather than hinder you.
Add to the passion some vision, constancy and steadiness and you become a very reassuring presence, in the project or work you have undertaken. You are formidable because nobody can envisage an obstacle you won’t be capable of overcoming and not be determined to overcome. They know you won’t give in, when things get difficult. They know you know the way, that you have seen the right path and that you can navigate the hidden dangers with assuredness.
The down side of all of this is that being formidable is a high quality bar to meet. Any chink in any of this armour, the slightest doubt, the slightest uncertainty or revelation of confusion and the whole edifice crumbles away. You have to maintain your formidable qualities, not be patchy or partially committed to them. Being formidable takes work, but the returns can be very spectacular.
Claude Monet said it well, when he described how hard it was to blaze your own trail, while those around you aren’t quite aware of how formidable you have become: “It’s the hardest thing to be alone in being satisfied with what one’s done.”
I guess the phrase that most encapsulates the mindset of the formidable, at least for me, is the following: “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it”
I hope you choose to be and actually become formidable. I’m still working on it.