Words To Live By: Confidence

(This is one of a part of a series of WORDS TO LIVE BY. This series grew out of a workbook I first made for my young daughters and discussed at the dinner table. These Words include values, good ideas, and Words to aspire to….and learn from….enjoy!)

According to Wikipedia; Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Self-confidence is having confidence in oneself. Arrogance or hubris in this comparison, is having unmerited confidence—believing something or someone is capable or correct when they are not. Overconfidence or presumptuousness is excessive belief in someone (or something) succeeding, without any regard for failure. Confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as those without it may fail or not try because they lack it and those with it may succeed because they have it rather than because of an innate ability.

Self-confidence does not necessarily imply ‘self-belief’ or a belief in one’s ability to succeed. For instance, one may be inept at a particular sport or activity, but remain ‘confident’ in one’s demeanor, simply because one does not place a great deal of emphasis on the outcome of the activity. When one does not dwell on negative consequences one can be more ‘self-confident’ because one is worrying far less about failure or the disapproval of others following potential failure. One is then more likely to focus on the actual situation which means that enjoyment and success in that situation is also more probable. Belief in one’s abilities to perform an activity comes through successful experience and may add to, or consolidate, a general sense of self-confidence.[original research?] Studies have also found a link between high levels of confidence and wages. Seemingly, those who self-report they were confident earlier in schooling, earned better wages and were promoted more quickly over the life course.[1]

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I was in my senior year of college. I decided to take an extra class just to give back a bit, to contribute. Much of my college life was pretty self-centered, immature, and mediocre. But when my father had a heart attack during my junior year, it woke me up. We had a family business that I had worked in before, to some degree, but like many things, I wasn’t giving 100%. Now I actually had to “run” the business. I made some mistakes, probably ruffled some feathers, and I started out rough. Many called it ‘baptism by fire’. In retrospect, it was the best thing that happened to me, since my father recoverd and actually seemed better after (a bypass gave him a new start).

So I had a new appreciation for things, gratitude, and I wanted to finally work a bit harder and start giving back, acting more like a man. So I signed up for a class on literacy – where we were to learn how to teach adults, illiterate adults, how to read. Pretty cool.

I hadn’t needed the credits to graduate so I signed up for a pass-fail class. I went to the classes and I was the only one from my graduating class that actually went to someone’s house and taught them how to read. My other senior classmates didn’t for whatever reason. I remember that the end of school came for grades and I got the report card, the transcript. As I mentioned, I signed up for a pass-fail. I just signed up for the class to do it, to contribute. But someone in the Registrar’s office must have hit the wrong button because I got a grade. I got a C.

To  walk around with an ego is a bad thing. To have confidence in yourself is a  great thing. Fred Durst

How was that possible? I attended all but one class, there were no tests, I participated in class, and I actually visited a home, assessed an adult and began to teach him to read. It was pretty cool. My senior classmates did none of this and they got B’s and A’s. I was furious. Why? How?

I tried to reach the professor but he went on a cruise. I went to the Dean, she said it was up to the professor. I wrote letters, got angry, and made noise.

But then I realized, I was a 21 year old who could run a small business, help a family recover from a pretty big family crisis, I could fix a water system, act as a general contractor, logistics manager, personnel manager and many other things due to my trials. And yes, now I could teach adults to read. It’s amazing how much self-assurance you can suddenly have when you remove your ego and emotions and look at the big picture. When I got back to contributing I felt confident. I felt happy.

We  gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really  stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we  cannot. Eleanor Roosevelt

One time I tried stand-up during an open mike night. I was terrified that people wouldn’t laugh at my jokes. My fears, it turns out, were well-founded. I bombed.

Shortly thereafter, I began doing presentations for business. I was so confident from the stand up, even though it was a failure, it didn’t matter that I was talking to some older, more successful people.

When I first learned to ski, a friend told me to fall properly. Falling was actually an option if I was going too fast or out of control. Falling was part of the process. So I felt more confident skiing because I knew that falling was OK and that I knew how to fall properly.

Health  is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is  the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy. Lao Tzu

Learning how to fall in skiing, comedy, and business gave me massive courage where I had once been apprehensive. And this confidence-building technique applies in almost any challenging situation. I call it “The Antidote Strategy.” What’s the worst that can happen? What if you remove your negative emotions and your ego? Haven’t you done something before that was just as hard? Something that you never did before?

Being self-confident can help you get a job, win a new client, or get other people on your side. It can help you try a new hobby, lose weight, or even get a date. By developing an “Antidote Strategy,” you can guarantee that you’ll be at your best when attempting to succeed at just about anything.

What I’ve finally learned in life, and I’m still working on actually putting into action, is that self-confidence mostly has to do with how or what I focus on, and how I manage my own emotions! It sounds simple but it is true.

Think about it. If you focus on past successes and strengths, you have references and you’ll feel confident. If you look at this fall as another failure, you won’t have confidence.

If you let panic, desparation, or fear come into your mind and heart – and allow it to stay – your choices, communications and actions will reflect that state of mind – and you will not be confident. If you relax, focus on what is working, focus on what you want, focus on action steps and build momentum, even small baby steps, you’ll be more confident in whatever it is.

Here are some other ideas….

Self-confidence brings one a sense of power and certainty in the moment.  It  seems to produce a certain “knowing” that one has the capacity to handle whatever is being thrown at them.

Eliminating self-sabotage and building self-confidence will provide the breakthroughs so you CAN begin to put this cycle into effect while you build momentum.  Being able to control your emotions will enable you to operate more efficiently.

There are 3 primary ways to create any emotion.

1). Physiology plays a huge role affecting our emotional state. How we move, our breathing patterns, our facial expressions, etc. actually cause chemical cascades in our brains that cause specific emotions based on what chemicals are released.

So, the quickest way to instill the feeling of self-confidence is to radically change your breathing, gestures, movement and facial expressions.

Here’s some fun you can try: Get up and walk around your room as though you have all the self confidence in the world! Strut, swagger, play with it. Keep it up for a few minutes. Really.

How does that make you feel? When I did it, I took a kitchen apron, slung it around my neck so the apron part was like a super-hero’s cape. I felt fantastic! (I was also still in my pink fluffy robe and pajamas.) What a picture I must have made!

2).   Second, Control your mental focus. By asking questions like, “What’s the best way to complete this project now?” or “What’s the best way to get this done and have a blast doing it?” You will find better answers by asking better questions.

Consciously choosing what questions to ask has also worked wonders.  We’re already asking questions in our heads all day long, so we might as well ask GOOD ones!

3).   Finally, pay attention to what you believe and whether or not your beliefs are empowering. Have the courage to change any core beliefs that do not serve you to improve your life. Change from “I’ve never done that before, so I can’t do it now,” to “If I can imagine it, then I can achieve it.”

You can add these questions as well;

If I am committed, there’s a way to do it.

If I need help, I can get help.

If it doesn’t work out, I can learn something and try again.

Your Assignment:

Recall five of your greatest successes and write a paragraph describing each one.

Use these examples to remind yourself that there are always options and that knowledge can help to strengthen your self-confidence.

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.” – Unknown

“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.” – Unknown

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5 thoughts on “Words To Live By: Confidence

  1. Carly Vivian March 8, 2013 at 9:13 PM Reply

    Love this post Jim! Your assignment really allows confidence to build and this self-awareness to go deep.

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