Diffidence is a plague. I see it in action every day. Friends, family, or co-workers perceive a chronic lack of value in their own abilities. Everyone else can plainly see how amazing these people are, but they can't, and keep sabotaging themselves.
For a long time, I was very diffident. Over time I've learned to be outgoing and confident in my own value. Here are five tricks I use to stay confident and remind myself that I am awesome!
Fake it till you make it
“You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.”
- Paulo Coelho (Novelist)
As cheesy as it sounds, more often than not, faking it is one of the best methods for changing yourself. My Mom tells a story about how when she was in school she had a trick for cheering herself up. She found that if she forced herself to smile, pretty soon her mood would start to reflect her outward, initially fake, expression of happiness. I have used this myself to appear more confident than I really felt initially.
Remember your achievements.
"By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you've achieved - and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles, and losses - you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments." Jack Canfield (Motivational Speaker)
Get a piece of paper, or open a text document on your computer. Make two columns, one for your personal achievements and one for your professional ones. Now list out what you have been successful at in your life. Here's an example from my own achievement list. I spent over a year researching and reading about the uniforms and equipage used by Texan soldiers in the American Civil War. I learned every detail I could find, from how the cloth was woven and dyed, to where the buttons were manufactured. I now have written what essentially amounts to a graduate level thesis on Texas uniforms in the Civil War.
You can add anything, from learning a skill to developing a friendship. What you choose to write down doesn't matter. The important thing is to remind your subconscious how freaking amazing you are.
Realize the value of your experiences.
That's one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong (Astronaut)
Take a look at the things you have done in your life. Now try and think about how rare those experiences are, globally speaking. I have another post on this blog where I talk about how everyone is in the top 10% of the world at something. That claim sounds really bold at first, but think about it for a minute. There are roughly 7.5 billion people in the world, 10% of that is 750 million. That's a big damn number. That means most of your skills are well within the top 10% and probably the top 5% globally! When you think about how unique your experience is in these kinds of terms, you can't help but see your personal value in a new light.
Find your passion.
"Know that all passions, even sensory ones contain an infinite number of opportunities."
- John Chisholm (Entrepreneur)
Your passions harbor your best opportunities. In life, you need Passion to keep your projects from becoming drudgery and Determination to keep you going through the hard times. These two traits reinforce each other. How you can find what you're passionate about is a whole other blog post. For now, remember no matter what your passion is, there is a way for you to pursue it, and be successful with it.
Assign alternate victory conditions.
“The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” - Bobby Knight (Basketball Coach)
When starting a new project, set yourself a less obvious victory condition. Don't allow the difficulty of achieving your primary goal psych you out before you've even started. For example, I've been working with a Software as a Service (SaaS) company on their marketing materials. I got this client by making a pitch with web and branding designs. When I sent my pitch to the company, I had no idea if they would like my work or not. If I had allowed my only victory condition to be "they like my work and pay me", I would have been stressed out. So, instead, I set myself alternate victory conditions. At the time, I needed a deliverable project for my Praxis boot camp. I decided to make my pitch function as a delivered example of my skills that I could use in my portfolio. This internal choice meant that as long as I was proud of the finished project, I won. I viewed the sale as just a bonus and not the primary goal. Make every project a guaranteed victory!
Be your own hype man.
"I knew I was a winner back in the late sixties. I knew I was destined for great things. People will say that kind of thinking is totally immodest. I agree. Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way - I hope it never will." - Arnold Schwarzenegger (Legendary Beast)
Leave no place for modesty. I'm not talking about bragging, but so often we try to downplay our own virtues to avoid seeming boastful or arrogant. This Is Stupid! Being honest with others about your abilities in no way shows a lack of humility. In fact, quite the opposite. Honestly appraising your own value can be one of the most humble things you can do. Never be afraid to truthfully tell others about your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. For example: I am creative, I love making art and playing music. I have made brands for companies and sung in front of groups of strangers. However, I'm dreadful at math. The thought of higher level math makes me break out in a cold sweat. See how I wasn't bragging? I am simply being honest about where my abilities are, or are not.
To wrap up.
Start by putting a smile on your face, and acting more confident than you might feel. Before you know it, you won't be faking confidence anymore. Remind yourself of past victories. Write them down in a list. Take your list of achievements, and spend time thinking about how valuable and rare those experiences are. As you list your achievements, you should find your passion. Take that passion and explore ways to pursue it. In that pursuit, set yourself up to win. On any new task, set yourself a goal that will get you a guaranteed victory. Once you've done all these things and started to build your confidence, never hide your virtues behind false modesty or diffidence. Be honest and confident about yourself.
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