Is there anything you do that wouldn’t benefit from having more confidence? Even if showing confidence doesn’t make a difference, at least having the option to show it helps.
Have you noticed that people with more confidence can’t do that much more than people without it? They can’t lift heavier weights or solve more difficult problems. The guy at the gym who lifts the heaviest weights probably isn’t the most confident person there. Alternatively, you can lift weights all you want — that alone won’t make you more confident.
So what does?
A friend just wrote me that she didn’t feel comfortable opening up with most people because she usually felt vulnerable and insecure, but with me she did. It got me thinking.
Opening up and sharing our vulnerabilities and insecurities is how we become more confident. When we are afraid to share them, we still have them. We try to hide them, but others see them. We try to kid ourselves they don’t see them, but they do.
Let’s make this more personal. You have things you’re insecure about. You have things you feel vulnerable about. You don’t want to feel insecure and vulnerable so you try to hide those things. (As I write this I’m also telling myself I have things I feel insecure and vulnerable about too.)
You know what?
People can tell. They can tell either or both of two things
- your vulnerabilities and
- that you’re trying to hide them.
Even if they can’t tell what you feel vulnerable about, they can tell something is up. The things we try to hide tend to be what people identify about us, the opposite of what we want when we hide them.
Hiding a vulnerability is like acting like you don’t have an injury when you do, or like you don’t have a pebble in your shoe when you do. You favor one side over the other. Or you avoid things someone without the pebble or injury wouldn’t avoid. You behave overall sub-optimally and make choices people don’t understand.
Even if they couldn’t tell, they know you have insecurities and vulnerabilities because everyone does. More likely if something makes you behave oddly but you don’t share why, they’ll think
- You act weird
- You have an insecurity you’re trying to hide
- You’re ashamed of yourself
- You think nobody notices, but they do, so you’re kidding yourself
All that seems worse than just sharing the fear. We all have the following and more, only some don’t share them.
“I’m afraid to try to lead because I’m afraid no one will follow“
“I’m afraid to stand tall because I’m afraid people will look at me too much“
“I’m afraid to talk to Alex because after our last fight we didn’t resolve all the issues and I don’t know how to bring them up again“
“I’m afraid to approach girls/guys because I’m afraid of rejection“
“I’m afraid to bring clients to close on deals because I’m afraid they might reject them“
“I didn’t go on the business trip because I’m afraid of flying“
How do you build more confidence?
Confident people don’t lack insecurities and vulnerabilities. They just learn to accept and celebrate them.
By sharing them.
Instead of trying to hide or protect your vulnerabilities and insecurities, stop holding back sharing them. It will be hard at first. You think people will judge you or take advantage of you. If you’re like me, you’ll have a feeling inside you, however non-sensical today, like the feeling when you got made fun of in school as a kid — a fear of being socially ostracized. Or maybe your anxieties show up in other ways.
Confident people have those feelings too. They also have feelings of “oh well, I can’t change that, I’ll just do what I feel is right and let the chips fall where they may.”
What happens when you share vulnerabilities and insecurities?
When confident people share their vulnerabilities and insecurities other people don’t take advantage of them. They think, “I can’t believe he had the guts to share that. I have almost the same thing but I’m afraid to say it. I wish I had that courage. I wonder how he got it,” and look up to you.
The first time you start sharing vulnerabilities and insecurities you might share things that embarrass you. You might make people feel weird. Okay, for the first few times you have to find your bearings. Then you get the hang of it. You notice people stop thinking you’re weird and instead start to admire your courage. With more practice they stop admiring your courage and simply identify you as confident.
They trust you more. They defer judgment to you. In short, they identify you as having another leadership skill. They consider you more capable not because they think you won’t fail but because they get that failure doesn’t devastate you. They expect that what others consider failure you emerge from unscathed and just do it a different way until you succeed.
When people understand you have a pebble in your shoe they stop thinking you’re acting weird and start thinking you just have a pebble in your shoe. If you explain you’re doing something too important with your life at the moment to stop and get it out, they’ll understand.
Confidence isn’t a superhuman ability to do what others can’t. Confidence is resilience to what others consider failure.
You get it by facing your insecurities, fears, anxieties, vulnerabilities, and so on. You don’t have to face them by jumping out of planes and running marathons (though such things may help). You only have to let others know you have them and let the chips fall where they may.
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