“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”
Pepper Potts: “Levels are holding steady…I think.”
Tony Stark: “Of course they are, I was directly involved.”
Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. (The Avengers)
You are the greatest.
The above statement is your new mantra. It’s the chorus of the song you heard on the radio this morning. It’s commercial that keeps playing in your head. Sing it. Watch it. Breath it.
The biggest lie that life will tell you over and over again is that other people are better than you. As such, the best way for you to serve humanity is by dialing yourself down. This ancient deception has been passed down for generations and has fractured into a thousand different forms.
The truth is that the world would be a far better place if everyone authentically believed that he or she was the greatest person alive.
Self-confidence is the belief that you can rely on yourself for anything. On a deeper level, self-confidence is the belief that you are meant for greatness. It is a firm trust, a knowing, that you can do whatever you put your mind to and succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Without confidence, people feel uncertain and uneasy, they become timid, anxious and paralyzed with fear. And they stay this way until they figure out a way to dial their confidence levels back up.
Understand: the world is trying to control the volume of your confidence.
If someone is being pushed around and walked all over, the world cries, “Stand up for yourself!” and “Improve self-confidence!” However, if that same person wears her confidence on her shirtsleeve and never questions her abilities, the world shouts, “Show some humility!” and “Tone it down!” This theme has been played out in almost every novel ever written and every movie ever made. From the Odyssey to Avatar, meekness is victimized and arrogance in criminalized. In reality, confidence is required for developing as a leader and for figuring out how to develop others.
Overconfidence is an oxymoron.
It is impossible to be too confident in yourself. The words “over” and “confident” don’t make sense together. They’re contradictory. The next time you hear the word “overconfident” your brain should read, “cannot compute”. There’s never a reason to believe that you aren’t good enough or that you can’t do something just as good, or better, than anyone else. If you’ve made a decision to do something, do it without hesitation and with complete confidence in yourself.
Keep other people’s hands off of your dial.
Throughout your life, other people will try to convince you to have complete faith in anything but yourself. There are two types of people that will try to bring your confidence levels down: haters and martyrs. Haters are people that talk big and take little action. Whether its due to fear or ignorance, these people will never be all they can be because they don’t follow up their words with deeds.
Subconsciously, haters know they are doomed. When they come across a confident, can-do person, haters ask, “Why is he acting so confidently?” and “Who does she think she is?” On a deeper level, they are asking, “Why am I scared to act?” and “Who am I?” Rather than answer these difficult questions, haters will try to bring your confidence down to their levels.
I once had dinner with a self made millionaire who spent 45 minutes quoting scripture and other text to me about how I should be less confident and tone myself down. After dinner, she promptly bought a new Porsche. True story.
Martyrs are people who talk small but take big action. Most martyrs are simply too self-conscious to promote themselves. Others, like the woman with the Porshe, have been successful so long that they have forgotten how much self-promotion is required on the road to success. Martyrs may think that they are helping you develop leadership skills by telling you to act small, but they are doing the reverse. The truth is that self-promotion and swagger are positive qualities, as long as they are backed up by action and substance.
There is a rare breed of people that run their mouths and move mountains in equal quantities. I call these people bringers. Bringers are success-ridden individuals that talk with purpose and follow up their words with enormous action. They continually generate confidence and help others improve self confidence.
Put yourself on blast.
Holding yourself publicly accountable for your actions greatly increases your chances of success. Talking about your dreams gives you extra motivation to achieve them and helps gather support and momentum behind you. Running your mouth is a great way to filter your ideas and generate synergy, which is why oral conversation is and always will be an irreplaceable skill.
The Muhammad Ali Law: If you talk big and deliver big, you truly are great.
It’s only arrogance if you’re wrong. The famous comedian Jim Carrey used to live in a Volkswagen camper with his entire family and worked long hours as a janitor to pay for gas. One day, he wrote a 10 million dollar check out to himself for “acting services rendered” and started telling everyone he was going to be a famous actor. He arrogantly declared his victory before he achieved it. Then, he achieved it.
Humility killed the cat, confidence brought him back.
Contrary to popular belief, humility, or having a low opinion of yourself, is not a virtue. Vulnerability is a virtue. Being vulnerable means that you are able to face your mistakes and shortcomings openly. Vulnerability is the opposite of defensiveness and it is closely related to self confidence. In fact, confidence is often measured in terms of defensiveness and vulnerability. A person who is extremely defensive about the quality of his work and his job security likely lacks confidence in those areas. By contrast, a person who embraces her vulnerabilities and easily accepts or dismisses criticism, displays confidence.
You can’t keep an authentic person down.
The offspring of confidence and vulnerability is authenticity. Authenticity is the state of being wholly yourself, a point at which life starts traveling through you, rather than you continuing to travel through life. This state has been described as “coming into your own” or “being comfortable in your own skin” At first, being completely authentic will feel like you’re walking through the middle of Time’s Square completely naked. That’s okay. Keep walking. Authenticity is a critical component of developing as a leader and learning how to develop others.
Embarrassment is egocentric.
You can generate confidence by realizing how little people pay attention to you. In the book Stop Talking, Start Doing, author Sháá Wasmund describes an experiment where several students put on a Barry Manilow T-shirt and walked into a room full of their peers. The majority of the T-shirt wearers reported feeling as though 50% of their peers immediately recognized the “uncool shirt”. However, exit polling of the people in the room showed that only 20% even noticed the T-shirt. The same was true if the students wore T-shirts with a “cool” image of Bob Marley.
Take your path seriously, but not the obstacles.
It’s not a coincidence that confident people are often ambitious and hard-hitting, yet charismatic and playful, all at once. As you generate confidence, all your little worries about looking stupid or messing up will disintegrate into nothing. Self-confidence gives you the mental flexibility you need to work tirelessly towards a goal while shrugging off problems and failures along the way.
You can do anything you want it life. If someone else has done it before, you can do it. If someone else has not done it before, you can do it. You are the greatest. Talk and act accordingly.