Being confident takes effort. It is a state of mind that fluctuates as we react to our circumstances, mood, physical health, and a whole host of unknown subconscious factors.
My life’s work is about understanding how to maintain this powerful mindset. Based on the theory that true ‘happiness’ is really about feeling self-confident, I have devised all sorts of ways to build and maintain high self-worth.
Here’s a few things to help you maintain yours.
UNDERSTAND THAT ‘victim’ is a mindset, nothing more, nothing less
As my coach Jacob Sokol says, you can either be a Victim or a Creator. The choice is always yours.
In working with offenders I quickly learned something fascinating: they do not choose victims at random. They are in fact attracted to victims. How can that be, when some people are victims for the first time?
Because being a Victim is not defined by having something bad happen to you. It’s about thinking of yourself as a victim. Here’s a fairly simple question that will determine whether you are a Victim or a Creator:
Explore how you react to life. Do you see yourself surrounded by opportunities? Do you feel like you can handle whatever comes your way?
Or, do you see yourself as being the subject of luck and circumstance? Is it just a matter of ‘playing the hand you were dealt’?
Victims are powerless. If you want power, you need to stop being a victim. And nothing in your life will change that, you have to change it yourself.
Try living for a month by the motto “Everything that happens to me is for my benefit, and is my responsibility to manage” and see how you go.
Try to give rather than get
Most people try to get things out of life. This is the quickest way to push the things you want out of your reach. I wish someone had explained this to me when I was younger.
In order to “get”, you must give. And you must give fully, with no condition or expectation of reward. Try to think of life as deal in VALUE.
To receive value, you must first give it. Make giving value the goal of every interaction. When you are talking to someone, ask yourself “How I can give this person the opportunity to leave here better than when they came in?”
This does NOT mean people-please. When you people-please, you are not giving, you are trying to get. Get liked. Get friends. Get approval. Get a reputation as the Nice Guy.
Giving is about ensuring that the person receives what they want, not what you want. Ask before you give help. Ask permission to serve others. Expect nothing in return.
You will be rewarded. This reward will not be what you think you want, but it will be what you actually need. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.
Doing it all by yourself is pointless
As a perfectionist people pleaser (what a mouthful), I used to try and do it all myself. And because I was hardworking and clever it worked OK… sort of.
Little did I know, I was missing out on amazing things because of my pride and inability to be vulnerable. I had to struggle and fight for every little bit of success, for every inch of progress.
Then one day I was promoted to Service Manager and was put in charge of a team of people for the first time. I quickly settled into my old pattern of doing it all myself, as well as trying to do everyone else’s work for them as well.
Not surprisingly, I completely burned out.
I decided to let go and start allowing others to support me. This is when I was subjected to another epiphany: teams are greater than the sum of their individual parts. 10 people collaborating can achieve things that 30 people working on individually would struggle to achieve.
And I didn’t miss out on anything. In fact, the more recognition and delegation I gave to the team, the better I felt. They loved me more as a leader when I allowed them to be in charge of the good stuff, rather than hogging it all to myself.
When I later became a full time coach I reverted back to my old ways, mostly because I was working alone. Then, when Michael Wells approached me to start Brojo, I opened up to the idea of collaboration again. Thank God I did that!
I suck at technical stuff, design and organising venues. I’m an artist, I like to create and perform. Michael was 10x better at all that stuff than me, and without him this thing might never have started.
Let go of your pride and let other people help you. You’re denying them pleasure by keeping it all to yourself. You’ll end up getting more out of it than you ever expected, and certainly more than you can do alone.
Slow the hell down
Mindfulness is now one of the most central concepts in my life.
I have learned that true bliss comes from being present, curious and aware of what is happening in real-time. There is a time and place for mentally drifting, such as getting creative or planning, but for the most part confidence comes from the simple joy of being present.
We are all so damn BUSY. We thrive on busyness as a coping mechanism to avoid boredom. People are busy from the moment they wake, all the way through the work day, until the moment they sleep. They go a million miles per hour and without even being aware of what they are doing.
People even have busy holidays. I once went on a one-month vacation tour of the USA for a leisure holiday, and most of our group were just on the go, all day every day. It was exhausting to watch them from the comfort of the lazy, unplanned holiday the rest of us were having.
You can do more with less. Rather than doing a billion things a day, do what’s important and do it well. Figure out what actually matters to your goals. Most stuff doesn’t, but we keep ourselves busy with crap to avoid the uncomfortable stuff that does matter.
Try this: no chores for a week. No internet social media scrolling. No socialising with people you don’t adore. Spend a week only doing the important uncomfortable things, and SLOWLY participate in life rather than rushing around.
Soak it all in – you only ever get to do anything once. Enjoy it.
Vulnerability Is Invincible
For too many years I hid everything negative about myself. My anger, my dislikes, my disagreements, and mostly, my weaknesses.
It was like dragging around a massive concrete ball. Constantly having to be hypersensitive to what I was saying and revealing. I treated conversations like defusing a bomb; with the utmost care and concern.
As I started building my confidence, I experimented with disclosure. I started slowly but tentatively revealing the darker aspects of myself. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
The result shocked me.
None of the bad things I thought would happen actually came to fruition. Instead, I was met mostly with love, understanding and sympathy. People seemed to like me more when they learned about my weaknesses. They certainly appreciated the honesty and shamelessness.
When you are completely vulnerable, when there are no secrets left, you become invincible. No one can use your weaknesses against you, because it’s all out in the open. It’s like having someone trying to bluff you in poker when you can see their cards.
For some reason it really inspires others. You gain instant trust and affection from people when you open up. This does not mean complaining or unloading your trauma on them. It just means being honest when you don’t know what to do, when you doubt yourself, and when you have feelings of shame about your behaviour.
Just remember: everyone else has these problems too. If you can be bold enough to reveal it, you will help others find peace with their own darkness.