August 11, 2014
Ways to Build Confidence: Part One
After a rather amazing weekend of working far less than usual, I am feeling incredibly refreshed and acutely aware of how tiny moments can drastically alter our mood. More important than the moments themselves is what we say about them. Often we frame these moments as being few and far between, or something we don't deserve to have.
'I know I should be doing something important right now.'
'If only I could have this much time every week.'
'Soon, chaos will come again' (Othello nerd reference)
Even I catch myself wanting to justify my free time, rather than just having it and enjoying it.
'Oh, it made me so much more creative. Look, I wrote a song!'
But this email is really about the beginning of my series, How To Build Confidence. And in the vein of helping us control ourmindspeak, the first way to build confidence is to keep a record of all your wins. Big and small. By recording the wins that occur on a regular basis, we condition ourselves to think of ourselves as winners. And this builds confidence to take on the new, live bravely and feel deserving of our piece of glory.
When faced with a challenge, it is easy to get into the habit of worry and forget all the times we have had success and endured tougher times.
Every single day we have little wins or moments we show courage. Often without a second thought.
We want to bring these moments to our consciousness so that we actively remember and note how often we prove to ourselves that we CAN.
Try this for an exercise.
Keep a piece of paper or pocket diary with you at all times. Whenever you have a little win, jot it down and review the list at the end of the day. When there is a big win, highlight it and bookmark or stick it on the fridge for quick reference when you feel like the impossible needs to be done.
When you're stuck on 'wins' you can write down what you have 'survived'. The framing of this list may not be as exciting, but just as empowering. That means that if you have a shit day you can at least say you got through it and learnt something.
In case you aren't sure about what constitutes a triumph, I interviewed some darling teenagers about what they would consider little wins in their day. All of these are just perfect for not only building confidence, but maintaining positivity. Here are some mini victories that made their list:
'...waking up with the alarm and having energy to get out of bed!'
'...driving a manual car for the first time.'
'...when my girlfriend talks about our future together. She's the first girl I've felt this way about.'
'...completing a task that I thought was too hard.'
'...getting a fresh haircut...'
'...getting a good tackle.'
'…a good netball intercept.'
'...talking at assembly.'
'...becoming vice captain.'
'...paying it forward.'
And most of the rest revolved around food:
'...seeing mum after school (sounds sweet) cos she makes me dinner.'
'…having left over food in my bag that I find at the end of the day.'
'...making mum and dad happy by cooking dinner.'
'...when I know I'm having a good dinner.'
And darn good luck, like there being no traffic on the roads or finding 10 cents on the ground that's landed on heads.
A young man said that 'witnessing common courtesies' was like seeing a little win. I cracked up laughing because I had just stopped him playing 'the penis game' (a game where you see who can say 'penis' the loudest). This is why every day is a joy!
So what little or big wins have you had in the past? What wins did you have today? What reminds you that you should have confidence to go for your dreams and live every day with courage and faith?
Lots of love,
August 31, 2014
A colleague of mine condemned my best friend and I for ridiculously playing ‘dress ups’ when we record our music and make videos. He doesn’t understand why we play full out in our lives and become what it is we most desire. He doesn’t understand the ‘fake it til you make it’ is more than just a way to build confidence, but a way to make better decisions. After all, how do you know if you want something unless you are fully immersed in it? It is only by acting out the life we want that we gain better clarity about whether we are doing what we are meant to do.
When we emulate greatness, we close the gap between the lifestyle we have and the lifestyle we want. Between the people we ‘are’ versus who we want to be. This is powerful, because we can demystify what it means to be great. Often, it is not about who we are but how we act.
In acting out greatness we start to notice that we are closer to our goals than we realise. We are capable because we take risks. We are living fuller lives because we dare to play out our ideal life, even in moments, to remind us that our dreams are possible.
So building confidence…
Act out the role you want to play in life.
Until it feels like you.
Until you notice the power you have to be incredible.
This is how I took the leap into being a singer-songwriter.
To be honest, apart from one performance in high school, I hadn’t sung in public for over 18 years. I recall a time in primary school where I wrote a concert about ‘Space’ and sung it with my friends. It has been a long time since then and I have only just decided to be the singer-songwriter of my childhood dreams. It has involved taking bold action, considering my lack of training. But I plough ahead by doing things like sharing my songs, spending (perhaps too much) cash on recording singles, releasing live videos and recording professional ones. It has taught me that the glamour is an illusion but the art is real. That I care more about making music than making people like me. That when I am not creating I feel like a limb has been cut off. And that I would do all this for fun. And in terms of confidence I know that I am safe to take risks.
On the other hand it is clear that I have heaps of work to do. That I want to almost entirely avoid the process of touring and be extremely selective about my live performances. And that I would be absolutely happy entertaining people from a screen. Doesn’t sound like anything like being part of the music industry, but at least I have learnt what it is I want through practical experience.
If there is a dream you want to dabble in, go ahead. To be significant, you do need to go all out, but JUST to get your head clear about the life you want to lead, spend some time acting as though it already is your life. See how it feels. Is it a good fit? How would you lead this life on your own terms?
What could you do to see what life could look and feel like if you taste-tested that dream? For my talented fiancé, he started learning photography for fun and offered to take pictures of my brother’s wedding for free. Apart from producing some amazing first time work, he understood how he’d like to run future shoots, how much he did enjoy wedding photography and that he deserved to get paid for it. He also did a baby photo shoot and as cute as the images turned out, he knew it was not the direction he wanted to take with his professional photography.
Pretty great for just 'taste-testing' wedding photography. This is a shot from Daniel's first wedding shoot.
A couple of days of taste-testing does lead to greater clarity about what you want. Not sure how to taste-test what you want? Ask me.
The next best thing to help you build confidence in yourself about your dream is to visualise yourself immersed in that life. Notice where you are happy and thriving. Identify the struggles and challenges and work out if it is all worth it. And know that if you can see it, it is absolutely possible.
What will you be dabbling in to see how it takes your fancy? Where will you act like a superstar and begin noticing that you are not as far away from your goals as you may think?
Have a beautiful week!
September 15, 2014
Research found that in a game of scissors, paper, rock, people are more likely to try to ‘draw’ rather than win the game when they can see their opponent’s next move. They still prefer to imitate, even if they get penalised for drawing. Mother’s imitate their babies’ facial expressions. We pick up mannerisms from our parents and those we look up to and spend time with. Even monkeys prefer the company of those who imitate them. So time to capitalise on this!
Monkey see, monkey do
The desire to imitate is so innate in people. Imitation is a subconscious sign of flattery, and something we are far more likely to do in our late teens when developing our identity. But what about after that? Or when we want to change our persona to be more confident?
Imitation can make the transition from ‘fake’ confidence to genuine confidence much simpler.
So how do we safely imitate people, without feeling like a total copycat? Well, you will never be exactly like someone else, but in different contexts, you can put on your character hat to give you more confidence and the consequent success of feeling good.
Choose a person who does similar work to you who you really admire for their apparent confidence. Imagine stepping into their body and visualise yourself moving and speaking like them. Tell me now, who do you look up to in terms of their confidence? Who would you imitate to give you a confident ‘edge’ at work? Or, perhaps you have noticed that you are imitating someone right now. Why do you think you have picked up some of their traits. Is it working for you?
Confidence can be about how you carry yourself. Your posture or the way you make yourself occupy more space with your stance and gestures. Men and women put their hands on their hips to have more of a presence. We puff our chests out or drape ourselves across furniture. We use bigger and more dynamic hand movements to validate ourselves as 'alpha-worthy'.
Who do you know who carries themselves well, be it in a professional space, a sporting activity or when with a person they find attractive. Notice the nuances of their communication and make it a game to become that person in your next significant or insignificant interaction. How do people react to you? How do you feel about yourself?
Rehearse putting on the various imitation caps. As part of your meditation or daydreaming, watch yourself in a montage becoming different people and enjoying their (perceived) level of confidence. Then replay that montage seeing the world from your own eyes.
Experiment with this new way to 'fake it til you make it' (see last week's post) and comment with your biggest insights after playing with this.
And as with all games of imitation, it is ok to take a part of a person you admire and make their mannerisms/demeanor your own. Chances are, they picked up their behaviour from someone they previous deemed worthy of imitation.
By the way, how do you feel when people imitate you? Share!
Now, let’s recap our current strategies for building confidence:
1) List your daily wins.
2) Dip your toe into it. Act out your dream role and notice how you are not as far away as you think from living that dream.
3) Imitate the great.
Let me know how this is working for you and which tip seems most effective in your own life.
September 20, 2014
Today is all about intention setting and its role in building confidence. By asking ourselves the right questions, we can easily feel confident and energised about ourselves and the future. The advice today is in the same vein as writing down ‘wins’, although I daresay, it is even more powerful.
Intention setting is the process of writing down an affirmation of; a) what you want to get out of yourself, b) what you would like to prove or achieve today or long-term or c) a short or long term goal. There is so much to be said about intention setting and the best way to do it. I’ll show you what works for me, through this story about one of my not-so-average days as a school teacher.
Last year and in 2012, in preparation for any significant karate tournament I would wake up and write on both sides of a piece of yellow cardboard. On one side it said, ‘I am the champion’. On the other, it said ‘Why am I a champion?’. I would fold the cardboard and put it in my pocket and head off to work. With the powerful question, ‘Why am I a champion?’ at either the back or the forefront of my mind, my behaviour changed to champion-like behaviour. I would subconsciously act in accordance with this question and sometimes would reshape the look of my whole day to align with this question. You see, I really wanted an answer to this question.
Here are some of the changes I made when this was my intention:
- I prepared better for classes and was present and thorough
- I ran up any stairs like a ninja (even if it was frowned upon by staff members)
- I practised karate in my breaks.
- I told everyone I was going to win the competition.
- I ate raw capsicum (and struggled with raw broccoli) as a snack.
- I visualised success and performing like a champion.
- I changed my passwords to ‘world champion’.
At the end of the day, when I pulled out my card from my pocket, I would have legitimate answers to that question. I am a champion because; I eat raw vegies, I run where others would walk, I practise when other people rest, etc. In terms of confidence building, it was abundantly clear that I was making decisions that would give me the greatest chance for success. By the way, the above list is just what I did while I was working as a school teacher! The intention obviously had immense power when I was in the karate dojo (training hall) or at the gym.
When we ask ourselves the right questions through intention setting we notice was is already there and make better decisions while letting the universe add extra pep to the intention. (More to come on how things lined up when I set this intention on a daily basis.)
If you haven’t done intention setting this way before, then this is your official action step for the week. Intention setting makes every day happier and growth-oriented. Share your intention with me here. It should be one sentence only.
Advanced tip for people who already do intention setting: My personal struggle with intention setting is that when I write down my affirmation and powerful question I 100% know it will come true. This can be scary, and sometimes I catch myself avoiding the most powerful question I could ask because it would dramatically change my life. To get over this, I list everything that could be bad about getting this goal and affirm ‘Even though I will have to (move houses, lose friends, be a role model) I give myself full permission to (be happy, be a millionaire, tour)…’ One of my favourite parts of coaching is helping high performing people break through to the next level of success by identifying what is holding them back and then healing and intention setting anyway.
Tell me in the comments, which of the four ways to build confidence are you finding the most helpful? When are you making time for this? What could be holding you back?
Have a fantastic week!