“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t —you’re right.”
Henry Ford, one of the pioneering innovators in the automotive industry, is said to be the source of that quote. He lived at a time when the world was changing dramatically. New ideas, inventions, ways of thinking and options for spending time, were rapidly evolving. In the process there was a massive transformation in the way people lived.
It’s a powerful quote not only because of the truth it shares, but the simplicity though which the truth is conveyed. What’s equally amazing about it, is that similar thoughts, although expressed with slightly different phrasing or styles, can be found going back hundreds of years before Henry Ford. From sports coaches to poets to entrepreneurs — they each, in their own way, came to realize that our belief in what we are capable of is one of the key determinants in whether those capabilities shine through in our lives.
Much like in Henry Ford’s time, our world today is also full of massively transformative shifts. So many and at such a rapid pace, that it has never been more important to grow our self-confidence. Not only so we can keep ourselves above water as we navigate life’s decisions, but so that we can have an existence which is truly the life we most want to live.
To assist you in that endeavor, here are five steps to help you grow and maintain your confidence.
#1. Remember that confidence in anything grows confidence in everything
A very wise leader I once worked with had a phrase that has resonated with me ever since I heard him say it. “Think big, start small, and scale quickly.” It applies to business ideas, physical conditioning, relationships and thousands of other things too. And it certainly applies to confidence.
When we’re not feeling confident, it’s easy to fall into an emotional hole. We feel like we’re not good at anything. We can’t get ahead. We find it hard to make decisions. We feel uncomfortable in our own skin.
As difficult as it is in those moments, that is exactly the time to “Think big, start small, and scale quickly.” The think big part is allowing ourselves to envision a time when we are good at not only something, but at the things which matter most to us. Depending on where you are at in your personal confidence, this may require faking it a little. And that’s OK. The goal here is to identify where on the map of life you want to be heading, and what type of attributes you want to have while you’re heading there.
Think big, start small, and scale quickly
The options for this are pretty much unlimited. Maybe it’s being a street performer who juggles, the owner of a company, a parent, someone who attends yoga classes… It’s entirely up to you. An expression I like to share with people is that someone is going to live your dream life, it might as well be you.
So think big.
Then start small.
With confidence, starting small can be as basic as identifying something you already know how to do, and realizing how far you came to get to that point. Like brushing your teeth. You may not remember it, but there was a time when you had no idea how to hold a brush, take off the toothpaste cap, and apply the perfect amount of paste to the exact right part of the brush. You were clueless about what motion to use, the amount of pressure to apply to your teeth, or how to effortlessly spit the extra toothpaste into the sink.
There are literally thousands of things you know how to do, and do effortlessly and effectively.
Seriously! When you were a little kid, it probably took a lot of months for you to learn all that. Look at you now though. You’re an absolute expert! This proves you have the ability to master new skills. So what else do you know how to do? Can you drive a car? Think about all that goes into that. Mastery of fine motor skills, scanning for and absorbing tens if not hundreds of pieces of information and using them to make instantaneous decisions. Can you type? That takes months to learn and at the start, every single person is incredibly slow. If you leave your house or apartment, are you able to find your way home? That requires incredible levels of detailed analysis, memory recall, strategic thinking, and decision making.
There are literally thousands of things you know how to do, and do effortlessly and effectively. And every single one of them can be a baseline reminder when you need it, that you are good at things. You can learn. You do have the ability to master skills.
As a good personal practice, pick one or two of those things you know how to do well, and use those as your mental bounce-backs if you start to feel down about yourself.
You may not have it all figured out as it relates to whatever items you’re working on or striving for, but you absolutely do know how to learn, implement and perfect new things. Embracing that truth will enable you to move from starting small to scaling quickly. Because it’s the self-doubt and uncertainty which keeps us from making forward progress.
Which leads us to step #2.
#2. Avoid death by a million distractions
One of the wonderful aspects of the world we live in today is the unbelievable access we have to information. With just a few keystrokes or a voice request to your smart phone A.I., you can get a step-by-step guide to everything from baking the perfect blueberry pie to filing a patent on a new invention.
As with practically all of life though, there is also the flip side to that wonderfulness. Which in this case is death by a million distractions.
If we’re not careful, the same wonderful access to information we have as a potentially awesome resource, can be the biggest source of distraction ever.
When we don’t know where on the map of life we want to go, or don’t believe we’re capable of moving towards that, it feels lousy. And in those moments, we either embrace the dissatisfaction as the first step to finding an alternative way out of the emotional hole, or we seek something to distract us from the fact we’re in the hole at all.
These days, if we’re not careful, the same wonderful access to information we have as a potentially awesome resource, can be the biggest source of distraction ever. Minutes, hours, entire days, can disappear forever. Spent doing nothing more than reading about someone else’s life, watching videos on who’s busy hating who, hanging on every word about what next crisis is just over the horizon…
A good approach is to use technology to feed yourself a healthy dose of inspiration.
The really sad thing is that after spending hours immersed in those distractions, when we turn them off, we don’t feel better about the hole we’re in, or our abilities. We don’t have greater awareness of where we want to go in life. If anything, the overall sense is that the hole just got deeper.
So, a good approach is to use technology to feed yourself a healthy dose of inspiration. It could be suggestions for successfully going where you want to go, stories of people who have succeeded in life, or anything else which helps you think big and scale quickly. And letting go of the distractions.
#3. Leverage the truth of the moving train
Part of what builds our confidence is seeing the degree to which our ideas and efforts connect, inspire, or engage others. What’s fascinating though, is that there’s a huge difference in people’s responses depending on whether or not we’re on a “moving train.”
For example, if we’re at a dinner party and someone asks us what we’re up to, and we say in a very blah sort of voice, “I’m thinking about maybe doing something different for a career. I’m not really sure what, though. I don’t know, maybe I’ll just stay where I’m at.”
It’s pretty tough for them to get excited about that. Not only is the train not moving, it might never move. And if it does, there’s no real clarity about where it would go or how much better the new destination is.
Part of what builds our confidence is seeing the degree to which our ideas and efforts connect, inspire, or engage others.
Because of that, it’s not likely we’re going to get a lot of confidence inspiring feedback after our comment.
However, if we’re at that same dinner party and this time when they ask what we’re up to we say, “I’m in the process of launching my own hair cutting business. It’s something I’ve always been interested in and I’m researching options now. In three months, it will be up and running and it’s going to be awesome!”
That’s a moving train! That’s the kind of comment which generates confidence building replies like, “That’s amazing! Good for you! Oh my gosh, let me know when it opens, I’d love to support you.”
Positive motion generates exponentially positive momentum, which facilitates confidence boosting encounters, which feed the positive motion. And the cycle keeps going from there and building all the while. It’s a fantastically efficient and effective system, and it all starts with making sure we’re on a moving train.
#4. Use the most powerful tool you already have
Within every human is an innate guidance system. It’s our intuition. From the smallest of decisions where the consequences are negligible, to the most major where the outcomes are life-altering, we always have our intuition at our disposal.
It’s an incredible tool which has the ability to guide us effortlessly towards the points we most want to visit on our map of life. It’s always there, always ready to assist, and always highly effective. We just have to use it.
“That bond gives us more confidence in what it’s capable of, and in the process, gives us more confidence in what we’re capable of.”
And what’s so fantastic, is when we engage it a few times and see just how incredible a tool it is, our connection to it gets stronger. That bond gives us more confidence in what it’s capable of, and in the process, gives us more confidence in what we’re capable of.
#5. Embrace the laughable truth
Every expert started off knowing nothing about what they became an expert in. Every single one of them. No matter how famous, no matter how deep their expertise. If they could do it, so can you.
John P. Strelecky is the author of the #1 Bestselling Das Café am Rande der Welt and Big Five for Life series of books. To get help mapping out the life you want to live, please visit: https://bigfiveforlife-seminar.com