3 lies you’re probably telling yourself about confidence

How cultural misconceptions of self-confidence can hurt you.

Myth 1: Confidence Comes From the Inside

  • How do you know you’re a great quarterback? People catch your throws. Other people cheer.
  • How do you know you’re a great writer? People read your stuff and tell you they like it.
  • How do you know you’re a bad ass musician? People dance or laugh or cry when you play.
  1. Accept that you get virtually all your confidence from other people.
  2. Seek out as many people as you can who a) think you have the skills to make it happen and b) will encourage you to take consistent action.
  3. Tell them what you’re going to do every day.
  4. Share your success with them. Make them feel like they were largely responsible for it, because they were.

Myth 2: You’re Either Confident or You’re Not

  1. Know the rules: Understand the social conventions so you say and do the right things at the right times.
  2. Know the players: Understand where people fit in the social hierarchy, who you can trust and what skills they have so you can predict behavior.
  3. Have the skills to play the game. Know what moves to make and when to make them.
  1. Recognize that you’ll be confident when you know the rules and the players and you’ve got the skills, and you’ll be less so when you don’t.
  2. Develop skills that will translate into a lot of different contexts so you usually get confidence from other people. Rapport building, small talk, dependability and honesty are skills that serve you in a lot of different contexts. I’ve got a magician friend who can bend a quarter. He gets mileage out of that everywhere he goes.

Myth 3: Over-Confidence Makes You Arrogant

  1. Confidence is believing you can make something happen.
  1. Be a student of your discipline. Study every day and remember that experts have the most to learn.
  2. When it’s time to perform, trust your skills and knowledge. Then go back to being a student.
  1. Find people who will encourage and expect you to take action. Tell them what you’re going to do so you’re more likely to do it. Share your successes with them.
  2. Recognizing that confidence is contextual, get strategic about understanding the rules and players of the game you’re playing, and work every day to strengthen the skills involved.
  3. Recognize confidence as an unlimited resource. Keep looking for ways to improve. Treat study and performance differently. When studying, assume there’s more you don’t know than you do. When performing, assume you know everything.
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