I remember my last fight vividly. I was at ease. I’d taken the fight on short notice with a kid that had come up from Oregon or somewhere along the coastal U.S. of A., and even though I found out he was a southpaw only minutes before the fight, I was at ease. There was truth to the confidence I had going into that fight. It wasn’t a matter of opinion and I fought like I knew I was going to win. The final decision, and yes it sadly went to decision, was already mine, I was just filling in the details.
Confidence cannot be an opinion. It must be fact. And fact even if only to the individual is still fact.
A few years ago I read a book on writing, editing to be more specific, and in its pages I found a single bit of wisdom that helped change how I write, talk, and think. I have the book somewhere on my book shelf and if I weren’t in the middle of a move I’d paste it right here (and I will when I find it again). In the book, the author wrote about his distaste for weak statements. He thought that no writer should ever write, nor think, nor say the phrase, “in my opinion”. The very fact that you’re saying it or writing it identifies it as your opinion. The same goes for, “I think that…”. It’s a weak statement. Say it as your truth, and if you’re wrong, acknowledge it, but stop giving the world such timidity when you have strength within you.
Right after I read that paragraph I stopped saying “I think that” and “in my opinion” and anything like either. My thoughts are my truths and I say them as such. My opinions are my truths and I write them as such. Writing truth rather than opinion made me write with more confidence. Speaking truth rather than opinion made me speak with more confidence. When your understanding of who you are and what you know is fact, your confidence is also not borne of opinion, but of knowledge.
So what is confidence and how do we really develop it?
With the sea of crap out there about “believing in yourself and it’ll all work out”, and “if you wish it to be true it will be”, the goal of this article is to bring some truth to a question surrounded by hokey pokey, wishy washy nonsense that takes the individual out of reality and into a land without action, only dreams, wishes, and wants.
What Confidence Isn’t
The “wishing and dreaming” camp think confidence is, does more of a disservice than it does serve the individual in their quest to live from a position of power – which is what confidence gives you.
Humility must come before confidence.
You must understand that, no matter what the latest self-help guru or your high school teacher has told you, you are not perfect just the way you are. You are not special. Who you are right now will not give you the life you want to lead, nor the goals you want to accomplish.
Because you have not yet earned them. If you had, you’d have them.
Confidence is the same, it must be earned, it cannot merely occur. A million dollars in your bank account is not going to occur either, it must be earned. Knowledge of who you are and what you can do must be earned over years, tough trials, failure, and much pain. It’s in these trials that confidence is given its truth, the truth it needs to be real.
Confidence without truth is borne from weakness and presents itself as vanity and arrogance.
When you think you’re God’s gift to whatever, you’re likely an arrogant shithead who, when that same shit hits the fan, will crumble and flee. If, however, you’ve grown to understand the work involved in acquiring skills, you’ll walk into each circumstance with the humility necessary to learn, and the confidence that came with claiming victory in like situations before.
When “guru’s” tell people they’re special and perfect just the way they are, it removes the possibility for this humility. Without humility you cannot be truly confident because your confidence cannot be true.
When teachers tell children that they’re special, it gives them the entitlement mindset that will make them cynical later in life. You know the kind of person I’m talking about, they’re popping up more and more everyday and with each new generation.
They want without merit because they feel that the simple fact that they’re here warrants a place in society without having to earn it. They feel that society owes them, not the other way around. They don’t get to work early, nor do they stay late, and they complain constantly about the “higher ups” earning all the money while they bust their butt in the basement.
Confidence Cannot Be Bestowed
The flaw with trying to give people confidence by telling them that they’re innately great is that success becomes expected and effort becomes optional.
I cannot give you confidence, nor can you give me confidence. Confidence is the result of victory over what we didn’t know we could do. Carry this knowledge that confidence must be earned with you. When you understand this, and accept that you’re not going to magically have it one day, it opens you up to the fact that you can have it, even if it’s completely lacking from your persona right now.
This is a very good thing.
Most people will think they have it because they’re told that they’re special, but when life hits them with the reality that they’ve developed no skills nor perfected no craft necessary for the money or success they think they deserve, their world comes crashing down and the fluffy confidence they once had turns into a dark depression.
Your story is different, it has to be. When you acknowledge that confidence is not yet yours, and that you’re going to have to work to get it, you then give yourself permission to earn it and actually possess it in the real world.
So how is confidence won and what does it look like in the man who has it interwoven with his persona?
Aggression is assertiveness in our daily lives. Aggression is acting with a purpose, it isn’t anger nor is it a loss of control. This purpose is fed with knowledge. When you know something, an answer to a question, for example, you’re going to respond aggressively and assertively. When you’re uncertain, the opposite response will be given. You’ll respond with a tame and timid voice that ends with a spike in tone as if you’re asking a question rather than responding to one.
Confidence is truth. We’re assertive with the truth.
To be more aggressive and more confident you need to acquire more knowledge, not just of the world or of business or of whatever specialized knowledge will lead you to success in your field, but of your Self. You need to do some exploring and exploration of the Self occurs outside of the zones of comfort we live in daily, monthly, and yearly, seemingly without break. (Read This: To Become Alpha You Must Seek The Uncomfortable)
If you’ve ever met a truly confident man you’ll notice he’s silently assertive. He is who he is. There aren’t too many questions he has about himself, though the quest for improvement is a daily one, and an arduous one, the knowledge he has about his abilities isn’t founded in delusion, but fact. He knows what he can do, and that no matter the test he’ll likely surprise himself by doing even better.
This knowledge must come from experience.
Back to boxing…
I had butterflies on my butterflies in my first fight. Heck, I had the same in my first sparring session. After that first fight and first session, I realized a couple things. One, getting hit ain’t that bad. And hitting is a hell of a lot of fun.
After I acquired the knowledge that fighting is fun, I relaxed. Before I had this knowledge I was worried about the pain, about getting knocked out, and about losing in front of other people and wasting the work I’d put in. It’s the knowledge of the experience and how I am within it that brought me a growing confidence in the gym that translated to other areas of life.
It’s the experience that scares us that we must conquer, often over long periods of time, that will bring us confidence founded in knowledge and not merely belief, that we need even more than positive thinking, although positive thinking is also a necessity.
Confidence is Silent
Silence is a virtue that the confident man must possess. There are, however, exceptions. Theodore Roosevelt was not a quiet man, but a boisterous man with a definite purpose. His confidence existed in his constant action. You may not need silence, but far more often than not, the loudest one in the room is usually the weakest.
“Loud” can be presented in different ways.
- There’s loud attire. The guy so concerned with what others think of him that he dresses in a way to fill voids in his confidence. He wants to show confidence by how he dresses or what he drives or where he lives. He cares more about the thoughts of others than his purpose or mission.
- The fella who’s constantly talking about himself, even if he isn’t loud about it, is lacking confidence because he feels the need to tell others about his exploits instead of being confident and secure enough to keep them as his own.
- If you cannot be alone you are lacking a key component to confidence. If you constantly need noise to quell the thoughts running through your mind, the loneliness, the need for something to accompany you, you’re lacking confidence.
Practice confidence by practicing silence in every way you can.
- Spend an hour a day in silence. Read. Review. Think. Pray.
- Listen before you speak. Whenever you’re in a conversation, even amongst a group, be the last to voice your opinion. For one, you’ll gain all of the information required. And second, you’re going to learn more by listening more. You’ll feel the urge to blurt something out, but the more you fight it the more confidence you’ll find in silence.
5 Ways to Acquire Confidence Everyday
As with everything that we want to accomplish in life, acquiring and developing confidence is best done with a plan, a course of action. Without a road map to a goal, you’re left leaving it’s accomplishment to changes, and it’s the habits we have everyday that will determine whether or not we will achieve the goal or not. Being special and perfect from birth is of little significance, nor any value to the quest each of us must be on.
1. Have a to do list of no more than 3 things everyday.
You must get in the routine of accomplishing things on a daily basis. And these things are better left to the essential things in your life. When people have a to do list, they usually fill them with 5, 6, even 10 things that they must do on a daily basis. Most of these things are not essential to the goal, the business, the focus of their lives. At the end of the day there’s typically 3-5 things that went unaccomplished, or the bigger the list, the more likely that nothing on it was marked off.
A to do list should only include things that actually help you achieve your goal.
I must write 1.5k words everyday to write my book. I must also write a newsletter or two everyday. After that, it’s either a blog post or a few chapters of a new product I’m working on. Those are on my to do list. After that I have free time for reading and answering emails.
The best to do list has only one thing. By accomplishing this single thing that is important you improve and you inch closer to your goal. The better you get at the skills you need to acquire to succeed in your field, the more confident you’re going to become.
Win everyday, but win at the important things. Don’t fill your to do list with tasks that don’t actually get you anywhere.
2. Train like a madman everyday.
Follow a program to forge a stronger, leaner, bigger body. Just like developing confidence, your body requires a path and a program if it’s going to be at its best. And it doesn’t matter what kind of person you are, a body that performs better and looks better will bring you real confidence.
The developing of that body is where you’re going to get the most confidence.
By pushing through pain, sticking to a goal, and doing something you truly didn’t know you could do, you’re going to obtain confidence that will help you in every area of your life.
If you’re a guy and you’re reading this, check out this article if you want to build the body that will help you build real confidence.
3. Acquire knowledge everyday.
Become a voracious reader.
I wasn’t one until I was able to choose what I wanted to read rather than being told what I had to read. I didn’t read a single book throughout high school or college. Now I’m reading a couple dozen a year – which isn’t anything insane, but it’s a start.
It’s in reading that you gain a piece of someone else’s experience. It’s in reading that you learn about the world and about what can be accomplished within the world. Study the lives of great men and see how they become great.
Learn from their success and failures. Apply them to your life. And gain confidence in knowing that imperfect men have achieved real greatness since time immemorial. And so can you. (Read This: Why You Don’t Need a Mentor)
Confidence is Won in the Arena.
To end, confidence cannot be won on the sidelines of life. It isn’t gained by watching, but doing. You cannot just read to learn, you must act to learn. It’s the man in the arena, as Theodore Roosevelt called him, that will win the scars necessary for victory in life and the confidence that comes only after battles have been fought.
You cannot be as confident before a battle as you are after. Confidence is gained with wounds and your worst fears. It’s won in victory and defeat.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.