Yesterday, I gave a talk at Cranfield University to MBA graduates on how to be confident. The irony is, I was totally in awe of all these clever people!
But here’s the thing, and this is what I told my audience. It really doesn’t matter how well-educated you are or how many brilliant qualifications you have if you lack the confidence to tell anyone about them!
If you have no confidence, you won’t be able to pick up the phone, or send emails, or get your C.V. in front of the right people. Without confidence, you won’t be able to network or socialise and grow your circle. If you lack confidence, you will not attract the sort of people you deserve to spend time around and who are worthy of your intelligence.
So, Why is Confidence So Important?
Imagine you are standing on a tiny little island called Academic Achievement. There are all your examination results, your degrees, your papers, your dissertations and a whole bunch of certificates. You stare into the distance at a far off land; it is called Success. Over there, far away, is a shiny place where it’s all going on. People are doing all the things you can only dream of. In between you and Successland, there is a sea. It is called the Sea of Fear. Maybe, in your head, it is not a sea. Maybe it is a wall or even a mountain or perhaps a deep valley. However you see Fear, it is very real to you and seems almost impassable. Unless of course, there was a bridge. A bridge could help you skip right across and get you to exactly where you need to go. That bridge has a name. It is called… The Bridge of Confidence.
The Brilliant Idea of Acting As If
Henry Ford said; “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” I can’t think of a better way to put this idea, so I’ll let good old Henners take the credit. Our minds are constantly changing and developing. What we think totally depends on what we input and this is referred to as neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity meaning your mind’s ability to change and develop throughout life.
If you convince your mind that you have “Got This” then you probably already have. Here are three instant techniques to try when you find yourself experiencing butterflies in your tummy.
- Say your most powerful three affirmations over and over and with great conviction. YOU HAVE TO SAY THEM LIKE YOU MEAN IT. In this type of situation, some good ones might be
I AM STRONG
I AM POWERFUL
I AM CONFIDENT
2. 30 SECOND VISUALISATION TECHNIQUE This might take a little longer when you first try it, but once you understand the process, you can almost instantly take yourself into this kind of “state” at will. People who practice this type of mindset technique do it almost without thinking although they may use triggers to get them there and the most simple way to refer to it is to get “In State.”
This is one visualisation idea but of course, there are endless options.
Stand very still. Stand up very tall. Your feet should be hip width apart. You are going to imagine you are a tree. See your arms and head as the branches, gently moving and swaying, covered in leaves and allowing the breeze to pass all around. Your legs and torso become the solid tree trunk; immoveable, strong, resistant. Now send your consciousness down to your feet. Feel your feet plant into the soft warm earth. Feel your feet rooting into the ground, deeper and deeper, connecting you with the earth and anchoring you exactly where you stand. Strong winds may blow, you may even temporarily lose your leaves, but your roots keep sending up energy for regrowth and renewal.
3. POWER POSE Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk cleverly demonstrates how tweaking the way we hold our bodies can have a significant difference to the way others perceive us. It also has a massive internal effect on our confidence. If we are feeling shy or perceiving a threat, we may make ourselves physically smaller to reduce what is ostensibly the target. We can see this by folded arms and hunched up shoulders etc. What we are doing (albeit unconsciously) is protecting our heart, lungs and major blood vessels. It is a natural instinct and makes good sense if we are in danger to want to cover up our vulnerable life giving organs. When we are feeling confident, we tend to open up revealing our torso and allowing our sternum to be exposed. That’s why most comic book heroes tend to stand with their feet firmly planted, their hands on their hips and their shoulders back with a bit of chest out thrustage going on. Try standing like a super hero and striking your own power pose. Note how strong you automatically feel.
It is believed that babies have only two fears; the fear of loud noises and the fear of heights. Well, I’ve never dropped a baby, so I can’t say much about the second one, although, when mine were at the crawling stage, all three seemed quite determined to launch themselves from changing tables or the edge of my bed, so I’m not entirely convinced. However, if we are to go along with this theory, we could say that all other fears are learned.
So if fears are learned, they can be un-learned.
This includes all our beliefs around confidence. Do let me know if you have found this helpful or indeed if you still need some ideas.