You already know who you respect and why you respect them. You know that they are good at what they do, right? You admire this person, and even though they rarely ever make mistakes, they quickly make up for it when they do. In essence, they are confident in themselves.
Looking at the confidence of such people, the first question that springs up in the mind of anyone who admires them is something like, “are they successful and respect for what they do because they have confidence, or are they confident because they are good and successful in what they do?”. Let’s call this question “the confidence conundrum”.
To answer this question, I would love to share a funny story with you.
Spoiler Alert: The answer as you would soon find out, is “yes” and another “yes”.
CONFIDENCE IS NOT A NATURAL GIFT
When I got into the university, I was asocial, shy, ignorant, and naïve. I couldn’t even shake hands with people. And no, it wasn’t because no one extended their hands, or that I hated them. It was because I didn’t know how to shake hands.
In Nigeria, when we shake hands – in non-official settings – we almost always times snap our fingers. That is, rather than the usual way you snap your fingers by yourself, here you would have to work together with the person you are shaking to trigger the snap. That is, you would have to synchronously snap theirs as they snap yours – two hands working as one.
This was a monstrous task for me. I couldn’t do it. And, as long as young guys were concerned, the handshakes were the unspoken emblems of belonging. When a guy walks into a room, he goes about shaking every other guy in the room – and this comes with the snapping of fingers. So, if you couldn’t get this right, all your handshakes would be awkward and speak poorly of you.
This problem weighed on my mind with an unbearable gravity. I had no clue, and you couldn’t go a single day without meeting at least one guy who extended his hands – for a damn handshake. It was a nightmare, and I dreaded it.
My salvation came when I met my friend Wisdom. He was an outgoing fellow, Who was also strangely interested in me. We were just meeting for the first time – this was year-one in school so everyone was a complete stranger to every other person. Well, he is an open guy and was approachable, so I approached him and asked him to teach me (how to shake hands).
And, he did. It was pretty basic. Simple instructions like “Look, do this”, “do that”, “twist your wrist this way”, “hold it firm and tight”, “no, not like that”, “snap!”. Etcetera, etcetera. It took roughly a week to get used to it – I mean the rudiments. As I got used to it, I began to see results. Sometimes it snapped and my whole countenance lighted up, and sometimes it didn’t and I practiced some more.
Soon, the problem of shaking and snapping hands was gone and forgotten. But something strange kept on happening. I discovered that once in a while despite my years of mastery, there are still few occasions where the fingers still fail to snap.
HOW TO BUILD CONFIDENCE [Self Confidence Tips And Tricks]
Then it stroke me: confidence is about being comfortable with failing.
When someone is confident, they don’t personalize their failures, and they don’t worry about the results of what they do, but simply focus their attention on doing their best – they trust and are comfortable with themselves, not the results.
It’s like being a boxer. You don’t walk onto a ring thinking about confidence or lack thereof. You simply go and throw, as well as dodge some punches. The confidence part happens behind the scenes. It happens when the boxer trains. When he pushes himself to his breaking point, and then go past that.
Just like my friend was teaching me how to snap my hands in private – and I was failing to grasp those basic concepts for almost a week – so also a professionals practice in private. In essence, you become confident by doing the things you’re not confident about.
You learn how to swim by swimming. You learn how to talk to a crowd by talking to a crowd. You learn how to fight by fighting. You learn how to win by winning. But, non of those come without embarrassing failures. You would almost drown, freak out, or get knocked out a couple of times. But, after that, after the embarrassing moments and failures, you will learn how not to drown, tremble, or get knocked down.
You build confidence by practicing. And, practicing is controlled failure. It is you doing something you suck at till you rock at doing it.
Hence, confidence is born from failures and is simply strengthened by winning.
So yes, successful people win and are respected for what they do because they have confidence, and they are confident because they are good and successful in what they do. But, do note, the process of becoming good, and successful was and is born out of practice – aka, controlled failures.
So, it is entirely okay to fail. In fact, you should be “psyched” about failing. You should be thrilled to embarrass yourself a few times till you master whatever it is that you want to do.
For instance, consider how my art has evolved over the years – and is still evolving
USE THESE 4 STEPS TO BECOME CONFIDENT AND A MASTER OF ANYTHING
In case this whole confidence thing is still a bit confusing to you, here are 4 simple steps that are battle-tested to make you confident in anything – whatsoever. Just 4 simple steps.
- KNOW THE BASICS: Before you head off addressing a thousand people – and end up mortifying yourself – you want to first learn the basics of talking to large crowds of people. No matter what you’re about to attempt, need to know the little things that constitute success in that endeavor. This could be learning how to enter, stand, gesture, make jokes, tell stories, and exit. There are several nuances to everything. As an artist, for example, I needed to first understand the types of shading techniques that exist, tonal graduations, paper types, pencil types, canvas sizes, etcetera. The first step in becoming confident is to know what is required for success.
- PRACTICE: Practicing is not just doing what you think is right. You need a yardstick to measure your successes and failures. You need to have a gold standard that you wish to attain. And to do this, you need to rely on feedback. This feedback could be from software, a human, or some other thing. I remember learning typing using the Marvis Beacon’s software – and this software was able to tell me when my typing sucked, and when it was becoming better. The last time I saw the software and typed, it instantly indicated that I was at Intermediate level – its yardstick was perfect for getting an individual confident with a keyboard. You need someone or something to set milestones, and tell you if you are making progress or not based on those milestones. And then you want to push yourself till you hit the milestone they’ve set. That milestone becomes your confidence level. It is what makes you certain that you can do this or that. It is also important that you keep a record of these tiny wins – they would be your motivation when reaching for greater heights.
- TEST YOUR MIGHT: What use is it to practice if there are no challenges? After you reached a certain level of confidence, you want to engage in a test. You want to go out and write an exam, fight an opponent, or take a shot at what you’ve been practicing in the real world. This is a very critical part of confidence-building because it is what makes or breaks most people. At this level, it is important to note that you are there to test your might – to simply do your best because winning is not assured. At this point, you should be okay with still getting beaten or failing. The idea here is to see how many results your practice has yielded. If you succeed at this level it would forever seal your confidence for that level, and then you would only have to worry about pushing it higher – from maybe talking to a congregation of 100 people, to addressing a crowd of 500. If you on the other hand failed, you need to take note of the next point.
- ITERATE: No matter your results – from testing your might – you want to ensure that you receive feedback. You want to ask questions like “what was the best part of the presentation?”, or “why was the presentation a disaster?”, “How can I make it better?”, “How can I nail this presentation next time”, etcetera. You must use the feedback from your failures and successes to synthesize lessons. To know what worked best, worked mildly, didn’t work, or harmed the results. The lessons are the key.
If you follow these 4 simple steps, in the end, you would have a feedback loop – of learning, practicing, testing, and then back to learning.
If you can pull this off, and never break the circle, you would have effectively built for yourself a flywheel of greatness that runs on the fuels of both failures and success. You would be unstoppable. You would become what I refer to as a Pawn – always growing up, leveling up, and stepping up. Using both the good and the bad as stepping stones.
In the end, you would become confident and command respect by being comfortable with not being confident and embarrassing yourself.
Let’s keep in touch. Simply input your name and email below.
I’m an artist, writer, and thinker. I also love reading and playing chess.