In part 1 of The Confidence Kit™ I talked about the importance of knowing what you want to be different. I put my appearance of confidence largely down to the fact that when I was a young person growing up I knew that I wanted my adult life to be very different. I knew from my teenage years that I wanted to have enough money in my bank account to pay for a comfortable home, a reliable car, nice clothes and holidays. I didn’t want to ‘struggle’ and worry about money all the time, but instead I wanted choice, confidence and freedom to enjoy fulfilment in my professional life and happiness in my family life. Every conscious thought I had about my future revolved around knowing exactly how different I wanted my life to be ‘when I grew up’.
Know what you want to be different
I knew without a shadow of doubt what I wanted to be different. I had that picture in my sights from quite a young age. It gave me a point to focus on, to aim for, and although I didn’t know it at the time, many decisions and choices I made from my teenage years forwards, became very influential in steering me towards the ‘different’ life I wanted.
Looking the part
I then started looking like the person that was going to have that life. As a teenager I developed a passion for drama, where I learned to literally ‘look the part’. I knew that the adult life that I wanted would involve a promising career where I would be required to lead teams and speak in front of groups. I therefore learned how to take the stage in drama productions, looking as if I had no nerves when I fact I was quaking inside! I learned 2 musical instruments and learned the art of performing during the scariest of music exams. I always felt terrified and literally quaked at the knees whilst playing my instruments in front of examiners who filled me with fear. But I learned how to look like I was in control…and quickly it became clear to me that if I worked hard at looking confident, I soon found myself feeling more confident.
‘Looking‘ confident was definitely helping me come across as ‘being‘ confident.
As a young adult I started a promising career on a fast track management programme for a national retail business. My training threw me straight into the deep end running teams, managing high street shops, dealing with theft, performance management and helping staff in the aftermath of terrifying armed hold-ups. Was I confident each time the business gave me a new and unexpected challenge deal with? No, of course not. But so much depended on my ability to be able to handle anything that came my way, that I became a past master of projecting capability and confidence. I had no choice – other people relied upon me to take control of difficult situations; it was what I was paid to do. I was increasingly learning how ‘looking’ was more important than ‘being’ where confidence is concerned.
US body language expert Amy Cuddy speaks extensively about this theme; she calls it the Power Pose. Look out for her TED talk ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’.
Get the ‘look‘
Next time you enter a situation where you need to project confidence, but aren’t feeling confident, imagine how you would look if your really did have the confidence that you aspire to have? Body upright, shoulders relaxed, head up, steady gaze, hands relaxed, breathing nice and steady…Smile.
Waiting to feel confident enough before you face your next challenge or step into something new and unknown won’t help you. Learning how to ‘look’ as confident as you want to feel will have a remarkable effect on your ability to achieve amazing things. Try it.