The Confidence Bypass
‘Just act more confident’
‘If only I had more confidence…’
‘How to get more confidence today!’
The ‘C’ word has always had a tendency to make me squirm.
When confidence coaches tell us to puff our chests out, fake it until ya make it, lipsync to songs in the car and dance like no ones watching: I think, OK. That’s cute.
Easier said than done.
Is it really confidence we’re looking for?
Well, yes and no.
If confidence to you means being or acting like someone else: then no, it probably isn’t confidence you’re after.
If however, confidence means feeling like you could try something new or challenging – and accepting that even if you don’t succeed you’ll still be a whole, perfect human – then yes, confidence is on your horizon.
One problem with the directives we get from books by the Dale Carnegies and Jack Canfields, is that many of us simply don’t believe them.
We don’t believe that yelling affirmations at ourselves in the mirror every morning is going to do anything other than wake our confused neighbours.
We don’t believe that we’ll attract the love of our life if we can just hold eye contact for more than a few seconds.
An even bigger problem is: do we even want to change?
We want the results that confidence (apparently) brings: better relationships, a dream job, more money, less stress and more happiness.
But do we want to be someone else?
The person these confidence gurus embodies, and tells us ‘WE CAN DO IT TOO!’ just might not be someone we aspire to.
The Confidence Bypass
No, we don’t want cockiness, bolshiness or arrogance.
Those are not traits we admire, and quite honestly, those kind of people make us feel slightly uneasy.
We want simple things that will undoubtedly make our lives easier and more fulfilling.
We want to be reassured our work is good.
We want to know we’re on the right track.
We want to sell our products or services to people who get it, who get us.
We want to reach those people who won’t cause trouble, who love what we do so much that they do the promotion FOR us.
But how do we find these people?
How do we show them that we have what they’re looking for?
Is it just a matter of acting like the confidence guru tells us? A matter of shouting louder and louder until someone listens?
I’m not convinced it is.
What I’ve found, through trial and error and a lot of tossing certain books at the wall; is that that for many of us: a confidence bypass is not the answer.
By confidence bypass, I mean trying to walk the walk without even believing the talk.
The ‘fake it until ya make it’ talk. Sure, it might, and apparently does, work for some.
But personally: I just couldn’t buy that.
What I’ve done, and what works (and currently is working) for me is not ‘thinking big’ or acting big. It’s going small: really small.
Really asking what I need this elusive confidence thing for, and asking what will really get me there.
For example, talking on stage is something that I gradually found myself wanting to do. The more TED talks I watched, the more workshops and webinars I learned from: the more inspired I was to help others in the same way I had been helped.
But how to get from turning red when more than one person looks at me at a time, to speaking on stage in front of – one day – hundreds of faces?
I broke it down. To the teeniest, tiniest steps.
I couldn’t pretend to myself I’m the kind of person that gets on a TED stage: but I could just about convince myself that I’m the kind of person who can make a 30 second video on my phone.
Just me and the camera. No one has to see it. I’ll hit the trashcan straight afterwards.
Then, I’ll try one again tomorrow.
Maybe the next day I’ll go for a minute…
Too soon! Ok, 45 seconds.
This was my process. Painfully slow: but remarkably effective.
The difference was: I could buy it. I could believe it.
Change doesn’t happen for most of us over night.
We hear these success stories, and it sometimes sounds like they went from zero to a hundred in a matter of weeks.
All I’m here to do is to let you know it’s ok to be the tortoise.
I’m doing just fine as a tortoise. Talking, quietly at first, may be just to one person a day, and showing them how much I care about what I do, and how I might be able to help them.
That one individual, who got my full attention, then might go and tell some more people. Who might also ‘get it’ and who do a much better job than me at talking about my work.
At no point do I have to act like someone I’m not.
Sure, it still gets the heart rate up, and I do still sweat an unnatural amount when I’m interviewed on podcasts: but I think I’m getting better. One, tortoise-like step at a time.