Posted by: elambend | August 15, 2007

Self-Confidence (Even If You’re Faking It)

Marketer and self-promoter extrodinair Tim Ferriss of The Four Hour Work Week, posted an interview with Christine Comaford-Lynch about networking on his blog. For a short-form interview, it covers a lot of ground, but it was one of her shorter answers that really grabbed me:

2. Why was [Bill] Clinton such an effective influencer?

When he is talking with you, it seems you are the only person in the world. His focus is intense, but softened with his southern charm.

Step 1, he makes you feel important, so you listen up. Step 2, he has the 2 key qualities I learned from Bill Gates and Larry Ellison: 1) supreme self-confidence (this is a choice, by the way—you often have to adopt it before you have evidence to back it up) and 2) an unshakable core (no matter what is thrown at Bill and Larry, they shake it off, hunker down, and emerge triumphant).

The rich and powerful think, act, and speak differently from the rest of us. If you try adopting supreme self-confidence, even for a day, you’ll be stunned by how the world responds. It treats you as if you deserve everything you ask for.

You really have to believe in yourself. It sounds so simple, but I know personally that it can be very hard to achieve true self-confidence. Now some people would say that it is easy for guys like Ellison and Gates to be self-confident, look at what they’ve achieved. However, they’ve both taken incredible risks to get where they are, Gates dropped our of College and Ellison came up from nothing; neither would have gotten to where they are if they hadn’t believed in themselves and just tried.

For some people self-confidence is innate, but it can also be learned; I’ve done it myself in at least one area of my life. All it takes is practice. In my case, it was forcing myself to talk to girls I didn’t know. In the end, it was really just forcing my self to actually go deliver the first line (usually, “Hi, I’m So-and-so) and not being afraid of rejection or the blow-off, which came a plenty. Later, I would use the same practice to look for a job in a field that I was new to. You have to be determined to change your behavior until it becomes natural.

There’s actually a bit of mental laziness in avoiding self-confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself and don’t want to try to, you also don’t have to hold yourself accountable for doing a poor job or just not trying; this is where the ‘unshakable core’ becomes important. If you are going to develop the self-confidence to do the things that you want to do, you have to be able to take responsibility for set-backs and start right over again.

Even if you don’t feel it, fake it. It’s not as hard as it sounds because almost everyone has done it. Ever done a job interview. If you were supremely confident the job was yours, then congratulations; but if you are like most people you may have been unsure, but you didn’t show that in the interview because you wanted the job! That’s how life is. You can’t lie about your skills because people will find out, but if you fake you confidence, people will believe you, eventually even yourself. I certainly didn’t feel very confident approaching girls I didn’t know, but after a while it became easy enough that it just seemed like what you do when you go out, talk to new people. [note to girlfriend: not anymore]

If all else fails, just remember a time when you did kick ass – and tell yourself you’re going to do it again. Repeat as necessary.

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