A radical approach to being more incredible
It’s easy to think that confidence is a quality we either have or we don’t - depending on the situation. We may feel we’re confident in one-to-one situations but not in groups. We might even believe we’re confident in social situations but not with our bosses. Sometimes we just shrink, can’t find the words and feel paralyzed with fear. At other times we’re unstoppable. Why?
In this article, I’m going to describe how to recognise what confidence really is and how we can enhance it using the principles behind how the human mind works.
What is Confidence, and Where Does it Really Come From?
Most personal development approaches use different factors which try to help you become more confident and effective. It may be through understanding your personality type, developing leadership abilities or communications skills that provide the principal content. They may put forward certain attitudes, thinking patterns and strategies to adopt that enhance confidence and help you to be more successful.
The approach I use is different as it explores the fundamental and natural functions of our mind, what thought is, and how our thinking (and narrative) creates our experience of confidence (or lack thereof).
Lacking Confidence Is Painful
The human mind is capable of the most incredible feats of understanding and creativity, yet somehow our full potential eludes us. Somehow we’ve become scared to explore our own thinking, and therefore our own reality, whilst perhaps accepting the common assumption that 'life happens to us' and that the qualities, feelings and important things we aspire to come from ‘outside’.
Even if we try to change our thinking, attitudes and beliefs, our experience can easily default back to what it was before.
There's a missing link.
Part of our failure to really feel the extent of our own awesomeness is that we don’t fully appreciate what how our mind works is and how it shapes, and indeed creates, our experience. The common paradigm is that the world is ‘out there’ and things ‘happen to us’ thus we see things from an outside -> in perspective.
When we use this common approach in relation to confidence we’ll seek confidence in what others think of us, praise, status and the external trappings of success (for example what car we drive or what brands we wear). As a consequence of the way we see things we seek some kind of ‘confidence fix’ in the wrong thing. No wonder we end up feeling so deeply unhappy and lacking in confidence sometimes when we lose an important client, our boss berates us or our financial situation is not as good as we’d hoped.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying that receiving praise or encouragement from others is bad or not helpful. And I’m not saying success and financial freedom are not useful. I’m saying that in themselves they can’t provide real confidence and if we rely on them we’ll remain vulnerable and lack resilience.
Key Principles of How The Mind Works
In truth, what is really happening is that the world 'out there' is shaped, formed and experienced from inside. Our mind is creating (and trying to understand) the world around us and our thinking shapes our experience of it. So, in reality, the external things that contribute to our ‘confidence’ simply don't have the power to deliver because they are outside of our mind and ‘confidence’ becomes something we’ve just made up - a bunch of thoughts and feelings about ourself that we mistakenly attribute to what others think of us, our status or some other external thing.
The way the mind works is a bit like the body's immune system - when we allow things to heal, they heal. They sort themselves out more effectively. The mind is like this.
So, when we get out of our own way and allow our mind to function as it should, we can see things from a wiser perspective. One of the natural side-effects is that we experience more flow, connectedness and confidence. Our mind becomes clearer and new insights can emerge. For example, when we sit quietly in meditation our mind eventually settles on its own. Or we may be focussing on a big challenge without any solutions coming. If we relax, do something different, forget about the problem, then new insights can emerge.
After 25 years of martial arts, deliberate personal growth and meditation, I don't doubt this at all. You see, the nature of the mind is really clarity and lucidity. Our personal thinking obscures this, just like clouds hiding the blue sky behind.
Our Thinking and How It Creates “Confidence”
Are any of these thoughts familiar to you?
From our stream of thoughts, and through how we have interpreted events in our lives, we create a narrative about ourselves. That story forms much of our experience and although it changes over time, it can keep us stuck in counterproductive patterns, that we end up believing.
And guess what? That thinking governs our behaviour and creates a feedback loop of ‘reality’.
But we forget one really important thing. Our mind is not the camera – observing and recording our experience – it's the projector. It’s all made up from inside. We’re making it up with our thinking.
So, confidence doesn’t really exist. It’s just part of a narrative or story we tell ourselves. And that narrative is not accurate nor is it even the truth of what's happening.
How to Enhance Confidence, So That it’s Always There When We Need it.
We’d all love to experience more confidence, but as we have seen, our thinking about ourself just gets in the way, so having an understanding of how the mind works means we can access a deeper form of confidence.
The challenge is that our thinking is immersive. So how can we access the qualities that are already present within us? How can we shine, and feel happy to do so when the noise in our mind is telling us so many other things?
The interesting thing is, when we get out of our own way, we feel capable, in flow, effective, able to deliver - because confidence and all those other qualities we have are actually already there because they are naturally part of us.
But how do we get out of our own way?
We might need a few minutes a day to remember these key things - or use some kind of lever to rebalance our mind for example meditation, yoga, going for a walk or something similar. When we allow our mind to work unhindered, we then find that we can be naturally confident. It seems so simple, yet this is quite a shift in our mindset.
Want to Find Out More?
Get in touch to arrange a Trial Coaching Session.
We all hit adversity. And chaos. It's inevitable. Things go wrong, they change and it feels like we're in deep water. But how we react will dictate whether it's a problem or a challenge. This then opens the way to either sinking into anxiety and stress or transformation through learning and insight. Gritting our teeth and moving into survival mode can get us through - but will leave us depleted, not having learnt much and never wanting to repeat the experience.
Examples of the type of adversity I mean here are:
One: Get Some Perspective
When we're in the thick of it, it's hard to get perspective on what's really going on. Because our thoughts are so immersive we easily lose perspective and believe everything we're feeling and thinking. The truth is, our own thinking is limited and at times unhelpful. In fact, many of our thoughts are based on stories we tell ourselves - stories that are fundamentally untrue. No wonder we feel confused sometimes.
To get some perspective talk to someone you can trust about what's going on - a mentor, friend or colleague. A Coach can also help. Find someone that can magnify your wisdom and help you see beyond your problems.
Two: Ask Yourself - Where is The Problem Really Coming From?
We might find it hard to see where our problems are really coming from. Often we feel stressed and experience some kind of mental pain when things get challenging, but that's our internal reaction to external events at work there. What we really need to look at (and give space to) is our feelings. By separating out how we are feeling about events from the events themselves, we can identify what is causing us difficulty or discomfort internally and let go.
By seeing our feelings like temporary weather in our mind, then we can gain clarity again. This then puts us in a much better position to deal with the external events and challenges.
Three: Know That Clarity and Insight Are Available To You At Any Time
The deeper nature of our mind is clarity. And when we allow it, our wisdom is there for us. Our emotions can cloud our judgement, but the essential clarity of our mind is always there. You can enhance this greatly by meditating for a few minutes every day.
Four: Get Out of Your Own Way
Often we get stuck - thinking we are the feelings we are having and then following a story such as 'I can't cope with this' or 'I'm an anxious person'. When we see beyond our superficial thoughts and stop identifying so strongly with our feelings we can return to equilibrium. Getting out of our own way means confidence returns and we feel more naturally able to meet any challenges we are facing.
Five: Look After Yourself
It seems obvious but it's really hard to get enough sleep, exercise and nutrition when things get tough. Make sure you relax in the evenings, after some nutritious food and don't put off that trip to the gym, meditation session or yoga class. You can thank yourself afterwards!
Want To Find Out More?
For a free one-to-one Coaching consultation, or just a chat, contact me on 07717 172 691.
Why business owners need an ally
Most business owners are prepared to forge their own path, get others onboard and work hard to reach their goals. With sacrifice and determination success is guaranteed, right? Well, not always. This article focuses on some of the challenges business owners face and how best to remedy them.
Aspiration Versus Reality
Owning and running a business is aspirational for many people - it promises freedom, flexibility and the chance to make a decent amount of money. Whatever your business, and whatever your level of experience, you can’t do and think of everything. You need perspective, insight and an ally to help you develop your business, find the right strategy and make the business work for you, otherwise you’ll end up feeling trapped, stressed and (potentially) going back to the drawing board.
The stats are quite sobering:
Living in A Vacuum?
Business owners hire consultants and coaches because they want an additional focus on what they do and how they do it. In many ways, having a coach is like having a business partner but without the strings. By amplifying their own insights and gaining more clarity on their goals, thinking and overall direction, business owners can make better progress, faster. Without this kind of input, running a business can be lonely, overwhelming and unnecessarily stressful. Plus, it’s easy to lose perspective - especially if you’re a one-person business or your flat-out most of the time.
Finding Your Own Way
“Don’t play games that you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.”
Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO
Being an entrepreneur, you may think that you need to run your business according to the ideas of other people or according to traditional models. You don’t. One of my clients is currently increasing his revenue by 300% whilst limiting his working week to 3 days. With the right thinking, anything is possible and running a business that is based on your needs, ideas and values is the most rewarding way to do it.
The job of a coach is to challenge you to find the model that is right and then troubleshoot until it’s been perfected. Building a strategy is then based on firm foundations and executing that with a plan will mean success becomes tangible and achievable.
Stress Is An Inside Job, So Is Success
Many people believe that stress is mainly created by external events and people. In reality, stress is merely triggered by those things (have a look at the bestselling book Invisible Power). The primary reason we get stressed is because of our thinking - and that’s all happening within our mind. The trick is to see how this process works within you. That’s hugely empowering and frees you up from the stress that can plague your day and destroy your clarity of mind. This hugely impacts your business.
Success may mean a nice car, great holiday, paying your mortgage off early and having plenty of money in the bank. All of those things help, but if success is happiness, fulfilment and peace of mind, then it comes down to how you feel inside and the external trappings are just a bonus.
Bearing that in mind, focus on what’s really important and think about what success really looks like - in terms of how you feel, the financial rewards, the relationships that matter, social impact and your own personal peace of mind.
Get Focused, But Stay Balanced
It takes a lot of focus and concentration to run and deliver your business and service to others and it’s easy to forget to look after yourself. You need to keep an eye on your energy, rest well, eat well and exercise well. Here are a few tips:
Know Your Business
This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but many business owners often don’t know (with great accuracy) what’s happening within their businesses - in other words, they don’t have a clear way of seeing (and understanding) the key metrics that are crucial to the well-being of their enterprises. Cash-flow, profit margin, cost of acquisition, most profitable areas of business, customer data, marketing reach etc, all matter. This kind of data is the control panel of your business. Imagine driving without the fuel gauge, speedometer and other dials on your dashboard? If you don’t know your KPIs your business is being run on instinct alone - and that’s stressful and risky.
Enlist The Right Support
Whether it’s a friend, coach, mentor or even an insightful accountant - getting the right kind of support is crucial for success. No-one is an island, and we all need helpful and supportive allies to bounce ideas off, troubleshoot and to maintain perspective. We also need others to keep us on track, help us develop the mindset needed for success, challenge us even - but most importantly to remind us to believe in ourselves.
Want To Find Out More?
If you'd like to explore the benefits of having a coach for you and your business, then feel free to call me on 07717 172 691 or email me.