Confidence is difficult to define because it is subjective, elusive, and hard to pin down; but you know it when you see it, and you know what it feels like to be around it. Being confident is an experience. We also know when we don’t feel it when we hide underneath a blanket of self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity. Confidence and lack of confidence are some of those rare qualities that are infectious. When you act confident you exude good positive vibes, people want to be around you, follow your lead, and be inspired by you. When you feel wary, insecure, and defeated people tend to stay away from you. Being confident matters a great deal. Please read on to find out why.
Why being confident matters?
Being confident matters a great deal because whether we like it or not being successful in our professional and personal life depends to a great extent on what we do and how we do it. On a professional level, what we do is a matter of technical skills, and how we do it is a function of confidence.
“Skill and confidence are an unconquered army.”George Herbert
Confidence should not be an end in and of itself, and it will never compensate for good old-fashioned hard work. Even the most confident people need to be confident about something, themselves, their work, their identities, and confidence divorced from content will fall apart sooner rather than later. Confidence isn’t just about style, it’s also about substance; the two are intimately connected.
Rule 1 of Jordan Peterson’s book “The 12 Rules for Life” is to stand up straight with your shoulders back.
“Attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them, at least the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous.”Jordan Peterson
Confidence manifests in a number of highly visible ways: our body language, vocal tonality, verbal cues. Confidence matters a great deal because it acts as a protective shield. Bullies and predators’ favorite types of victims are those who are weak, easy to conquer, and less likely to put up a fight. If you are walking in the street with your eyes on your feet and hunched around, you broadcast to the world your vulnerability; but on the other hand, if you stand up straight with your shoulders back, if you walk tall and stare forthrightly ahead you broadcast to the world that you are solid and ready to face whatever life is throwing at you.
Use your body language and your vocal tone like you mean business. Operate in a calm-assertive-mode with the ability to turn into fighting-mode if and when required.True confidence is a process, it is not constant. It comes and goes. It ebbs and flows. It takes a hit and has to recover. It’s always evolving during the course of our lives as we take on new situations, challenges, and goals. So, we have to keep working on it as we go along.
Be confident without trying to fake it
One of the recipes for success promoted by many self-development gurus and authors is to fake it until you make it. Confidence is a quality that can be projected or faked. Deep insecurity can masquerade as confidence, politicians are experts in the art of faking it. Confidence can be hacked acquired and learned if you spend enough time practicing talking, acting, and looking a certain way.
The question is how long can you fake it? My take on this is that you can fake it for a little while until the entire act of faking confidence will become too exhausting, confusing, and alienating, as keeping up appearances becomes your primary objective. And here starts a vicious circle of faking it, being fearful of being found out and doubling down on the illusion.
Wouldn’t it be easier if instead of faking it you practice the real thing, by being more authentic, more grounded?
“True confidence is a feeling of self-assurance that is grounded in an authentic experience of our own ability, perspective and sufficiency. It is also a sense that we are enough, that we aren’t lacking in some fundamental sense that prevents us from navigating the world in a healthy, positive, and productive way. It is a quality we all inspire to have. With it we feel engaged, purposeful, inspired. Without it, we feel wary, defeated, fearful.”Jordan Harbinger
A few tips to help you be more confident
- Stand up straight with shoulders back. Confidence is expressed most profoundly through our bodies. No matter how well we speak, the way we feel about ourselves will always manifest in our posture, our hand movements, and our facial features.
- Dress for success, for the job, and for the life you want. We have to remember that people’s first impressions are made when they see us, not when we first interact with them. This is why you should pay attention to your physical appearance. Wearing the right attire for the right occasion is important. Showing up at a job interview wearing garments that are inappropriate for the job on offer, will for sure not get you that job and will also knock down your confidence level a few notches. This rule doesn’t stop when you are at home, you can wear comfortable clothes, and still look fabulous, ready to have a fabulous day.
- Speak as you mean it. After body language, our voice is our most powerful tool to make a good impression. Vocal tonality, which includes not just the physical quality of our voice but also our pitch, articulation, syntax, volume, and intention, expresses and reinforces our innermost sense of self. And remember that our voice tonality could act as a protective shield, if you find yourself in a situation where someone is invading your personal space, taking liberties that make you feel uncomfortable, assert yourself through your words and voice tonality, put some boundaries and make it very clear that you are not to be messed with. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by someone who is taking too much liberty.
- Be authentic. Being authentic means being emotionally honest, clear about your experience of the world, and free of pretense. It means responding to every moment of life, the positive and the negative, in your own way, without faking it. True authenticity owns and acknowledges those less than pleasant experiences in our lives in a way that ultimately enhances our sense of self. In other words, we don’t become confident by never feeling insecure. Nobody feels positive, upbeat, and confident at every hour of the day. I got news for you; everybody is as lost as you are. If you respond authentically to your experiences (good or bad) and are able to share those experiences in the appropriate amount (too much self-pity will turn you into a victim – avoid this at all cost), in an appropriate way, in appropriate contexts, you are all set. If you do it right, those moments of vulnerability can turn into an asset and a strength.
Be confident without being arrogant
There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and it can be hard to distinguish between the two. Working to boost self-esteem is a good thing but taking it to excess can encourage arrogance and narcissism instead.Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance that comes from an appreciation of our abilities or qualities. Arrogance is characterized by having an exaggerated sense of our importance or abilities, and self-righteousness. Arrogance often masks an insecurity. Confidence on the other hand stems from true self-worth. Ultimately, arrogance repels us. I don’t know a lot of people who like to spend time with arrogant people. Confident people are the opposite: they inspire others. Never underestimate the power of being confident, it matters a great deal. And this, my dear friend, is your Quest!
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