I just want to give a shout out to my Mom and Pops for a minute, they really are two kick ass individuals. I’ve spent a lot of my life traveling, reading books, investing in personal development, and giving credit and gratitude to all those who have influenced me along the way but today I want to give thanks to the two most influential people in my life… Mom and Dad.
Mom is quietly zany and Dad looks like Tom Cruise from The Last Samurai and both have enough wisdom, patience, and love in them to cover this Earth. I remember having conversations with my Mom and Dad either in the car back from grandmas or while throwing the baseball outback about life, love, thoughts, feelings, and how to be a better human, and for as long as I’ll live one conversation with my Pops will stick out to me until the day my body decides to call it quits.
SO THE STORY GOES
I wish I could remember how old I was to save the life of me but I can’t, so lets just say I was probably between the ages of 8 and 10. My Dad and I were throwing the football on the side of our yard in Herndon, Virginia (for those that know me it was our house on Exbury Street) on a sunny summer afternoon, I was running pass patterns and trying to catch everything so Pops would be impressed.
We stopped for a second so that I could catch a breather and while my Dad was tossing the ball in the air to himself he asked me a questions, “Hey son, what are you scared of? What are you afraid of and how can I help?”
When you’re young you’ve got two things going for you:
- Not much scares you
- You’re super honest
So I answered, “Dying… that’s what scares me.” Not seeing you, mom, Lauren (my younger sister), Zach (my younger brother), Grandma…. this went on for a little bit, I’m pretty confident I even said not seeing a grilled cheese sandwich was on that list (dunked in Tomato soup is complete heaven, not Paleo – but I really don’t care right now 🙂 )
My Dad’s response will stick with me forever:
“Son, if you’re scared of dying you’re essentially scared of living. And you know what? I know how you can live forever. You can leave a little piece of yourself, a small foot print everywhere you go if you’re one of the few individuals that decides to face your fears and do them anyway. People will remember you, your actions can inspire people, and those that decide to face their fears too because of you will share what they’ve learned from you with others.”
“How do you do that?” I asked.
“You have to belief in yourself, you must have confidence, and you have to understand that pursuing the things most important to you is never a waste of time, the real waste of time is simply thinking about them and letting them pass.”
Confidence is a skill and when you lose it, well, you’re done for.
Lack of confidence stems from a fear of not being safe or secure, it’s essentially a primal instinct. We’ve talked about it before together in previous posts but going back to our caveman and cavewoman days our chief concern was survival.
- Where would we sleep?
- What would we eat?
- How would we find water?
- Is there a predator around the corner?
- To carry on my genes I need a mate… where are you?
These things don’t change, we still need shelter, food and water, to avoid predators, and carry on our genes. Although many of these concerns have been answered with the availability of jobs, abundant water and food, a lack of predators, and plenty of mates, concerns and fear still remain because of uncertainty.
Those primal instincts to feel safe and secure still linger but they are now rooted in new questions you may ask yourself.
- I have a place to sleep but I don’t get enough of it because I’m so damn busy.
- I have plenty to eat but I’m unhealthy because food is so abundant and of lower quality.
- The only predator I see is myself, I get in my own damn way.
- I have a mate to carry on my genes but do I really love them?
- What will my family think of these decisions?
- I have a job to pay my rent but do I really have a love for it?
- Am I good enough?
I’m sure you have others, as I know I sure as hell do. These types of questions are all seeded in one thing and that thing is whether or not we believe we can handle these situations as they approach, and they will approach at some time or another.
WHAT THE HELL IS CONFIDENCE
- Doing what you believe is right or what matters most to you even if others mock you for it.
- Taking risks.
- Admitting mistakes/wrongs and being humble enough to learn from them so they are not repeated.
- Waiting patiently for others to congratulate you instead of patting yourself on the back.
- Accepting compliments and praise graciously while not at the same time not being afraid to compliment others.
- It’s practiced and not always born.
- You can have it in yourself & people can have it in you.
It’s self efficacy and self-esteem rolled into one. It’s your ability to be patient and resilient in your efforts to master skills and achieve your goals. It’s your ability to believe you can handle all that life dishes you, cope, fall down, and get back up for more. It’s the right you give yourself to be HAPPY.
It’s often more times a perception, as it typically involves facing a fear and doing it anyway. I would even argue that confidence is rooted in courage.
LACKING CONFIDENCE? GET SOME!
The most confident people in the world have a few things in common:
1. They’re expressive: Especially in their conversations with others. They have an opinion and are not afraid to share it while at the same time respecting the opinions of others.
2. They’re in control: They know how to adapt to situations, moods, and various personalities
3. They’re sensitive: They appreciate and understand the psyche of others, always considering and anticipating the reactions of others.
4. Genuine: They keep it real, always. Honesty, sincerity, and humility are displayed often.
5. They’re resilient: Having the ability and willingness to try to adapt to any situation or circumstance that they are in. Failures do not define them, they simply help to educate them.
6. Optimistic: It really does start upstairs. If you expect the worst how hard to do you think you’ll work towards achieving the best?
7. They’re prepared: They anticipate the best but are prepared for the worst and the unexpected.
8. They take risks: As often as possible, new experiences, trial and error, and doing that which scares you most, all provide valuable insight for personal growth.
9. They know their strengths: They play to their strengths and put themselves in situations to display them often but also are aware of their weaknesses and either recruit others to help them with those or systematically challenge themselves to bring those weaknesses up.
10. They look to the past: As a way to see what they have already achieved. They use it as inspiration in their pursuits but also as a way to identify their strengths.
The people you consider the most confident individuals probably were not born with it, confidence is a skill that is acquired and takes practice.
Repetition: Have a goal and practice it consistently. Most people bail at the first sight of any adversity, and tiny set back, problem, or negative feedback and they run to the hills for cover. Tim Ferris was turned down 26 times before finding a publisher for The Four Hour Work Week, Thomas Edison failed thousands of times over the course of two years before he finally got the light bulb right, and Milton Hershey dropped out of school in the fourth grade and failed to establish three candy companies before selling the Lancaster caramel company for a million dollars in 1900.
Repetition is often easy to practice and is highly effective in persuasion. You just have to make a conscious effort to set time aside to practice, it has to be an appointment with yourself that can not be broken. Some studies show that as little as 3-5 repeats of a thought or activity are enough to establish it as a habit.
Read that speech to yourself in the mirror or in front of your kids and family often, set aside 5-10 minutes a day to practice that piano piece, wake up a few minutes earlier every day so that you can get a quick workout in and prepare a few meals.
Get your think tank straight: There are already enough people in the world trying to tell you what you can’t do or are not capable of, why would you want to add to that and be one yourself. If you’re constantly thinking about a planes crashing do you ever think you’ll get on one? Of course not! Stop thinking about what is highly unlikely and put your thoughts on a more logical and likely outcome.
Catch yourself doing the good stuff: Conventional wisdom and society in general has it ass backwards, the news is a great example, there is way too much time spent on what were doing wrong versus what we’re doing right. Reinforce positive behaviors by catching yourself in the act of doing the good things. Pay attention to when you eat right, fit in exercise when you thought you couldn’t, come up with a bada** idea, instead of only thinking about those times when you eat an M&M or botch an interview.
Spend more time with the confident: Confidence is contagious and if you want more of it spend time with those whom you think have it oozing from their pores (sorry for the gross visual). One of the most famous social psychologists of our time, Dr. Albert Bandura and a few of his colleagues came up with the social learning theory in which learning is primarily done via three main processes.
- A live model, which involves an actual individual demonstrating or acting out a behavior.
- A verbal instructional model, which involves descriptions and explanations of a behavior.
- A symbolic model, which involves real or fictional characters displaying behaviors in books, films, television programs, or online media.
In order to effectively participate in social learning four conditions must be met:
- Attention — various factors increase or decrease the amount of attention paid. Includes distinctiveness, affective valence, prevalence, complexity, functional value. One’s characteristics (e.g. sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement) affect attention.
- Retention/repetition — remembering what you paid attention to. Includes symbolic coding, mental images, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal
- Reproduction — reproducing the image. Including physical capabilities, and self-observation of reproduction.
- Motivation — having a good reason to imitate. Includes motives such as past (i.e. traditional behaviorism), promised (imagined incentives) and vicarious (seeing and recalling the reinforced model)
Simply put if you want more confidence put yourself in situations in which you are surrounded by confident persons and pay attention to how they behave, take notes if you must, and then practice, practice, practice.
I’M DIFFERENT AND THAT’S A GOOD THING
Dr. Ivan Joseph says that no one else will believe in you unless you do first. So lets commit to stop second guessing ourselves, to stop second guessing reactions from others, to stop analyzing every email, phone call, text message. Let’s commit to stop doubting ourselves and our abilities, there are far to many examples of amazing displays of courage, confidence, and commitment to not believe you can do it too.
If you feel like you need someone in your corner make sure that you’re there for yourself first. I want you to do me a favor today, tomorrow, or sometime this week. I want you to f*ck up, yup, I want you to screw something up. A recipe, a date, a workout, a meeting, whatever it may be. Then tell me how bad it actually was, probably not so bad and guess what, you’re alive to talk about it.
P.S. Happy Mothers Day! LOVE YOU Mom and Dad!
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