How to be more confident
How to be more confident

Never give up, and be confident in what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds.
Marta.

Ever wondered why some people manage to achieve great things in life, while others fail to reach their potential? Well a key ingredient in succeeding is confidence. But how can we increase our confidence? This article deals with this vital aspect of human functioning, and gives a few tips for those of you who might be struggling a bit to get the most out of yourself.

I thought a blog about confidence might be a good idea, when I went to a small community musical production called ‘Brave’. I’m sure I’ll never forget it. Because early on in the production, there was a very young girl who was perhaps nothing more than three foot tall, belting out ‘Brave’ by Sarah Bareilles. And she certainly was brave, as there were a couple of hundred adults in the crowd.

For some reason, however, it seems to me that for many of us, we stop being brave at some point in our lives, usually in our late teens or early twenties. We get criticised or have some constructive feedback given to us and for some reason, we not only listen to it, but we let it affect our confidence. So by the time we’re in our mid to late teens, all of a sudden performing in front of others for instance, becomes something we dread rather than something to love and embrace.

Take Kirsty, a friend of mine’s daughter, who is a University trained pianist. Now I haven’t seen her play, but from all reports she’s got a heap of skill on the piano, but does she enjoy the performance? Not really. The reason, as many of us have experienced, is because of her fear of what others might think, and her fear of failure.

But Kirsty is hardly alone. Take research about public speaking. Surveys show that it’s more feared by people than death. What?! Death, now perhaps that’s something to perhaps get worried about. But really, public speaking? Surely not.

Now I know a bit about the fear of public speaking, so I’ll share some of what I’ve experienced with you. When I was in my early twenties I remember having to give a presentation on my thesis to my peer group, as well as a bunch of academics. About ten people turned up, and I was very nervous. I was so nervous in fact that when I started speaking my hands were shaking and my words were wavering. It took about ten minutes, or half of the time I was presenting, for the nervousness to ease. By the end of it I was exhausted, embarrassed and wondering if I would ever get over this. I was also wondering if my dream at the time of becoming an academic had one essential flaw – my ability to speak confidently to groups.

Given my performance, I thought I just had to do something about it. So I went to one of the counsellors at the University, and I think I received some of the best advice I have ever got from anyone, about anything. I have also since done some further research on the topic, which not only applies to public speaking, but also living a confident life:

  1. Everyone, even the best in the world, start as a beginner.
  2. The more you practice, the better you will get, and with this your confidence will grow.
  3. Assume everyone is your friend and they want you to succeed, the last thing most people want (except perhaps in politics or law) is for us to struggle and suffer.
  4. Remember you know a lot more about the topic than most people – even when you are starting out, it’s still your thing. You just need to have confidence in presenting it to others.
  5. Just be confident! If it helps, mirror yourself on someone else who is confident, and then fake it until you make it. But if you can tell yourself you are nervous, no good etc. etc., you can also tell yourself that you are confident. Just do that, just be who you need to be, and remember that you don’t need years of practice or permission from anyone else!

The other thing to remember about all of this is that if we want to achieve in our lives, we have to push ourselves through our fears, because the benefits can be enormous. It’s the only way we can become truly free, successful, and happy. The flipside is we live smaller, constrained lives, which isn’t going to make any of us as truly fulfilled.

So next time you have to do something that requires some bravery, just remember: almost everyone wants you to succeed, and they want you to be happy doing it.

And suddenly the world can change, and change for the better.

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

Ivan