We all want to look like we know what we’re doing. We want to radiate confidence in ourselves and our actions.
Growing up, I never had much confidence. I have more now today, but I still find myself shaken and doubting myself, or questioning my abilities from time to time. So how do you build confidence?
Well, I know, for one thing, building confidence starts right now, at whatever level you are at.
Here are 5 tips you can use to start building your confidence today.
For me, they’ve worked, but these aren’t the only ways to build confidence. I might update this post in the future, providing better tips and better research. But for now, these are what’s worked for me.
1: Own your Shortcomings
Star Wars has been a part of pop-culture for decades now. In all that time, I never really understood what Yoda meant when he told Luke, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Every time he said that I wanted to scream, “Yes you can try! If you can’t try then why bother with anything!”
I’ve finally understood what he meant, and the lesson that each of us must learn. The lesson is that you can’t hide from your weaknesses or failures.
When we say, “I tried.” We are in a way lying to ourselves. We are trying to cushion the blow. We are using a euphemism. In reality, trying is nothing more than doing something, but failing at it.
In saying, “I tried,” we are trying to hide the fact that we failed. If you try to do something, but you succeed, you never say, “I tried.” Instead, you say, “I did X.”
The same goes for our shortcomings. You aren’t perfect, but who cares? Nobody is perfect. Don’t pretend that everything is all sunshine and daisies.
Don’t be complacent, but don’t hide behind the fact that you’re “trying”.
If you fail, own that fact and learn from it. People who can’t accept that should grow up a little bit and realize we are all works in progress.
Own your failings. They may not be pretty, but they are yours. Do this, and you will start to feel confident in standing in your own skin.
2: Assume A No Excuse Mentality
Ryan Michler, from Order of Man, tells about how when he went through basic training in the Army, one of his instructors told him to incorporate a “no excuse mentality”.
He explains how whenever he would be getting chewed out, he would respond “No Excuses, Sergeant”. From what he says, it always helped the situation.
Doing this is the next logical step from owning your weaknesses or failures. Though you claim them as yours, you don’t let them become excuses. This is your affirmation that you will get the job done.
You will learn, adapt, and improve.
One of my favorite latin phrases is, “I viam inveniam aut faciam” which translates to, “I will find a way or I will make one.”
Assimilating this rugged determination creates a heat within you that others will perceive. More importantly, it will fuel your own momentum. You will begin to build confidence.
3: Start Planning
People say, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” Planning takes away the ambiguity. Generally, people prefer to be around, “The Man with a Plan,” and they avoid those who are clueless.
Start planning your life.
Confidence is derived from experience. You need to get experience. This starts by planning.
Planning includes goals. It includes scheduling, it also includes the very deep, “Who am I? What do I stand for?” questions.
When I say planning, I mean start exerting some sense of control and responsibility over your life.
You can’t control everything, and you shouldn’t try, but there are things you can control.
You can control yourself, and you should do that every day.
So, start planning.
4: Look People in the Eyes
Seems simple right? It goes beyond just looking people in the eyes. It encompasses two separate aspects.
In Jordan Petersen’s book, 12 Rules for Life, one entire chapter is called “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.”
He describes how you can positively affect yourself, and your environment, by the way, you posture yourself. He explains that posture doesn’t solve all the problems, but it does help a little.
When you look people in the eyes, you are mentally telling yourself to stand up with your shoulders back.
This also means that you stop excusing yourself for existing.
Too many people apologize for living, and breathing, and wanting more for their lives. I myself struggle with this.
Look people in the eyes as a way of saying, “Yes. I am here and I deserve to exist.”
Give yourself permission to be human and desire things from your life.
It’s hard. So many pressures in life want us to shrink, and cower. Don’t give in.
Look people in the eyes.
This tip is the most important one.
The others could be seen as preparation tips. The problem with preparation tips is that if you never get on to getting on, then you never actually accomplish your objective.
The key to this tip is this:
Confidence comes from experience.
If you don’t have the experience, then you will likely feel less confident. One of the antonyms of confident is insecure.
That means that you don’t feel a sense of security.
The reason experience gives you a sense of security is that it lets you feel that you’ve been in that situation before.
The nice thing about experience is that it doesn’t even have to be equivalent to one you’ve had before. For me to feel confident in a new situation, I only need to relate to previous experiences and take strength from that.
For example, in one of my semesters at college, I took a martial arts class. This was to challenge me, and help me learn some very basic self-defense techniques.
I enjoyed the class, but I was the beginnerest of beginners. We learned primarily techniques from brazilian jiu-jitsu.
The reason why this class challenged me so much, is because my “natural-man” inclination is to be very passive, and not confrontational at all.
Well, in jiu-jitsu, you and your opponent confront each other in a very physical way.
It is you versus another person. It challenged me, and humbled me. I’m grateful for that.
For the class final, we had one of two options.
We could either attend a jiu-jitsu event and write a paper about it, or we could participate in the university tournament held between our school and another local university.
Being my naturally timid self, I opted for the former.
Luckily, I was among a great group of guys who convinced me at the last minute to join the tournament.
I’ll never forget what the teacher said to me as I signed up.
He said he was proud of me.
After having gone to this university for some time, I was used to professors not knowing I even existed, let alone care about me.
It impacted me a lot.
Can you believe something as corny as that happened?
Well, it did, and I’m grateful for that professor.
The day of the tournament came and I was terrified.
By far, it was one of the scariest things I have ever done because it was the opposite of my nature.
Luckily, I showed up anyways and competed.
I lost, but I competed.
After I had lost both of my matches, I felt amazing.
Because of the experience, I gained. The first shaky step is often the hardest. In so many areas of life, just starting is monumentally difficult.
That’s the power of experience when it comes to confidence.
Whenever I am scared to enter a new environment, I think back to that tournament and know that I’ll make it out ok.
I’ve done something, that for me, was incredibly hard.
As time goes on, my confidence will grow because my experience will grow. Fear may be present, but I’ll have compensatory courage to carry me through whatever stands in my way.
The challenge now is to take the next step. That’s what I look forward to.
But for now.
Confidence comes from experience.
Now is your chance to put these tips into practice. Today you have 2 action items.
1. Pick one of these tips, at least one, and start practicing it today. One of the easiest ones to start practicing is looking people in the eye.
2. Share your thoughts about this topic with someone you know and ask them their opinion. Share this article with them and get a discussion started about what you both believe confidence is and how to achieve it.
These two action items should help you get your feet moving and help you start to build momentum.
These are by no means a definitive guide to building confidence. They do work though.I’ve seen these very tips work in my own life. If you want to start building your confidence today, then:
Own your Shortcomings.
Assume a “no excuses” mentality.
Look people in the eyes.
Most importantly DO SOMETHING.
The hardest part about building confidence is that it usually takes time to build the solid, unshakable self-confidence.
Don’t wait. Start today, and do something.
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