Monday, July 01, 2013
On Building Your Confidence
Contrary to popular belief (because it seems to me that a lot of people believe it), confidence doesn't come out of thin air. It needs work, which is why I used the term "build confidence". Building something requires work on the part of the builder (that's you).
Confidence is a tricky thing, because in order to get it, you need experience.
Take public speaking as an example. To have confidence in public speaking, I need to get experience in public speaking. To get experience in public speaking, I need to do public speaking (how else am I going to get experience, right?). But, how am I suppose to do public speaking if I don't have the confidence in the first place?
Having said that, all is not lost. Within the messiness, there is one element that you can control: YOU. You have the control over yourself, in the midst of everything that seems so "out of control".
You want that confidence right? Well, you need to get off your bum and go get it. One thing is for sure: It's not gonna come to you.
The First Step
You need to take that first step. It goes without saying that first step is always the hardest.
But it is not impossible.
You might not necessarily have the confidence in doing the thing that you want to do (e.g. public speaking), but you should at least have the confidence in yourself. Yes, I made the distinction between confidence in what you do and confidence in yourself.
I may not have the confidence in public speaking, but I do have the confidence in myself to know that I can at least do it. I can at least give it a shot. I can take the first step and see how it goes.
In the case of confidence, you are your own obstacle. But you are also your own solution. You can overcome this obstacle. Sometimes it's easy to overcome and other times it's not that easy. But the good news is that you don't have to face it alone.
You can always ask for help if you need it.
Lets take public speaking again as an example.
The first time I did public speaking (to the best of my memory) was when I was 11. I had to speak in front of the entire school during the morning assembly and I had to speak in full English. The latter part being significant considering that English is not my first language and at the time, I wasn't that proficient in it.
So what was my reaction? I was scared.
Let me point out that being scared is normal. I would argue that if you don't feel scared at all, you might be abnormal. Doing virtually anything the first time is scary. The first time I rode a bike was scary. The first time I went to school was scary. The first time I went to an interview was scary. First experiences are scary and that's normal.
Don't run away from fear. Face it, and face it head on. That is your confidence in yourself.
At the age of 11, I had a bit of confidence in myself to speak in that assembly. On top of that, I received "extra supply of confidence" from my teacher and parents. That helped me, a lot.
I managed to overcome myself and did the speech in front of the entire school (which was about a few hundred people).
My speech wasn't perfect. I read the speech word for word from a piece of paper (hey, I was 11). But I don't have to make it perfect. The fear that people have might stem from the fact that they believe that they have to do it perfectly and there is no other option. That is a self-crippling thought created by none other than the person with the thought himself/herself.
Mistakes happen. Instead of viewing them as enemies, we should view them as friends. Or better, view them as teachers.
From mistakes, we learn. I wasn't born a perfect public speaker. I made mistakes and might even embarrassed myself a few times. But I learn and I move on, getting better and better with each experience.
Perfection shouldn't be the goal. The goal should be to give it your best. If you gave your best, despite the mistakes you might make, you have succeeded.
To learn more about how to build your confidence, do join us for our upcoming SPEAK UP! English Speaking Seminar.
Details can be found here.