Many people think that confidence can be built by just psyching themselves up. That’s not confidence…that’s called courage. Confidence is something different.
Courage has to do with inner strength, feeling the fear of taking action, but still taking action anyway. Men definitely need courage. But men also need confidence which is less about action in the face of fear and more about trusting that things will go as planned.
There will be another post in the future on how to develop courage. But for now, let’s look at the steps on how to build confidence.
STEP 1: Clarify the domain.
People may be confident in some things but not others. For example, I am confident in my ability to play chess, in my ability to teach a class of students, in my ability to play a pick-up basketball game with strangers at the park. But I am not confident in my ability to sing or my ability to do my own car repairs. That’s why the first thing to do is clarify the domain in which you want to increase your confidence. The reason is because the way I build my confidence in jazz piano will be a different approach than the way in which I build my confidence talking to beautiful women in a club.
STEP 2: Commit to being uncomfortable.
The next thing you need to do is be willing to stretch your comfort zone. Even though confidence is not the same thing as courage, they are related to each other. Courage is the inner strength compelling you to enter into a scary or uncomfortable situation. Confidence is the unwavering conviction that when you enter that situation, things will go as planned.
STEP 3: Accumulate smaller successes.
Let’s make a bet. You think about the area where your confidence needs building. I’d bet you a thousand bucks that it’s an area that involves other people. How do I know? I know because most (not all, but most) confidence building is wrapped up in gaining the approval from others. A man’s confidence is usually built on approval (either from others or from himself). For example, men who are confident approaching women in a bar got their confidence from having their techniques work in the past (i.e., approval). Men who are confident public speakers got their confidence from delivering successful presentations in the past (audience approval). Men who are confident asking their supervisors for promotions got that confidence from having done great work in the past that supports his request (authority approval).
[NOTE: The exact opposite is true as well when it comes to fear. Most fears are tangled in the avoidance of criticism or rejection. When it comes to approaching beautiful women in a bar, a man’s fear is built on avoiding rejection. With public speaking, a man’s fear is built on the avoidance of criticism.]
So what does all this mean? This means that after you clarify the area where your confidence needs building, and you have committed to trying to stretch your comfort zone, the third thing to do is accumulate some smaller successes.
The key here is that when you achieve something–anything–it makes you feel good. And the way our brains are wired, we instinctively want to continue doing things that make us feel good.
Basically, try to remember this: confidence is knowing that the situation you enter into will go as planned. But that only happens by having things go as planned earlier in similar situations.
ONE MORE THING…
Confidence is not arrogance. Learn to grow balls without being a dick.
We’ve all known guys who thought they were the shit, proclaimed to the world that they’re the shit, and then runs into a problem when they have to prove they’re the shit in front of a real man. One of my guilty pleasures is watching videos of bullies getting beat down by the quiet, unassuming underdog with confidence.
Arrogance is loud while confidence is quiet. Arrogance may be hot, but confidence is cool. Arrogance is annoying because it’s flamboyant, pretentious, and domineering. Confidence is powerful because it is inspiring.
Confidence is being humble while simultaneously being self-assured.
The point here is that your confidence will grow after several successes. But what happens to many guys is they feel so good about their many successes that they temporarily forget the work they did to get those successes in the first place.
Remember to accumulate your successes in the development of your confidence, and remember to assess your progress every now and then. But don’t forget your humility.
This week, practice building your confidence. First, identify an area in which you need more confidence (and of course, you have to pick something that is slightly outside of your comfort zone.) Find opportunities to practice “what good looks like” on smaller scales in safe environments. Get feedback when you can and evaluate your progress.
And remember humility. Confidence is quiet. It’s your own work, your own conviction. You don’t run the risk of being a dick about it with other people if they never have to know what you’re working on.