Confidence is key to success: here's what it takes to increase it
Have you ever wondered how those people are so successful? They seem to be navigating life like a breeze, from obstacle to obstacle, always looking happy and fulfilled. In this article, I want to talk about how much impact confidence has on your day-to-day life, and how you can increase it.
Before we start, I want to clarify two things. First, looking confident doesn't mean you are confident. Secondly, as Simon Sinek says, confidence is believing in yourself, while arrogance is telling others you are better than they are. Here, we are talking about confidence that leads to your success, without bringing others down.
Work, relationships and fun
Here's a story about me wakeboarding. I love board sports in general, they are a lot of fun. Naturally, like any activity you enjoy, you want to progress, to keep it fun. However, for any progress you make in board sports, you have to go through a fair amount of pain. When you miss a trick, you fall, and can often hurt yourself.
One day, I finally passed a trick I had been trying for ages. After zillions of crashes and painful mornings, I just kept going and going (I'm crazy like that), until that day. Miraculously my muscle memory and repetition proved useful and I managed to land one.
Guess what? It looked terrible!
But the story doesn't end there, I was so happy and excited that, without thinking, I tried again 100m after. And this one was beautiful! It looked like I had done it all my life, fluid and graceful (If you don't believe me, I have the video of the two and even without knowing anything about wakeboarding, you would be able to tell which one looks better than the other).
Now, what's the lesson?
After I landed the first one, I knew in my core, that I could do it. I was confident. Also, I had absolutely no time to think in between the two attempts. No time to bother myself with what-ifs and what-do-I-need-to-do. I just did it.
Take dating, for example. My most successful dates (meaning the ones I enjoyed the most, however they ended...) were whenever I knew I had it in me. I wasn't thinking, I was just being myself. You can take this example and apply it to any situation in your life.
What brings my confidence down?
Here's another short story. I am an avid hiker. In the summer of 2020, after lockdown (that is, six months of close to no physical activity), I went with my friends on a four-day hike with 15kg on our backs (20-30km per day). Needless to say that after that hike, my body gave up.
Long story short, I had to do six months of physio. Every step I did with this much weight on my back, and a lack of muscles had contributed to inflaming my knee ligaments. My friends? They just trotted along like deers in the crops (or almost).
The point is, like physical fitness, everyone has a different mental fitness. Some people are naturally bulky and resilient, and some are naturally slim and fragile. Well, that is the same for the mind. And like the body, you can train your mind to be more fit, to deal with the challenges life throws at you.
If you don't, each and every little challenge will erode a little bit of your mental strength, and that is the foundation of your confidence.
How do I increase my confidence?
Technically, you don't. Or at least not directly. Trying to increase your confidence is like trying to fix your inflamed ligaments. You don't. You build the muscles around them so that they don't take so much strain when you make a big effort. Any attempt at fixing it is just a patch and never lasts very long. Since my hiking adventure, I regularly do gym training to make sure my body can take what I make it go through.
Every man has a friend with good intentions telling them "stop thinking so much, just do it!" when they are thinking of approaching a woman, for example. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Like the inflamed ligaments, overthinking is a symptom. You need to treat the cause: that is, a lack of mental fitness.
In reality, what's going to really help you is building the necessary boundaries to prevent a challenging situation from affecting your mental strength. It's also putting in place certain protective barriers, actions, and reminders of who you are, your values, and what you do not accept. It's teaching yourself how to make those boundaries respected. It's understanding that if you let anyone or anything break this, it will make your confidence go down further down the line.
In summary, you need to work on your mental fitness.
So what's next?
This is where coaching is useful. Your coach will help you build those boundaries, create those triggers and help you stand for your values. They will guide you in taking the right actions at the right time, build necessary habits and train your mind to take on those challenges. It is a long and arduous process, it can require a lot of effort, but this is the price to pay to be successful in any area of your life.
Think about it. How many things have you tried? How many times have you told yourself "I want/need to be more confident"? How many times have you seen it negatively affect your life, your relationships, or your performance at work?
If not now, then when? take the leap and finally see some concrete changes, to be successful at what you love, for the ones you love.