Over the years I’ve been able to build my confidence, my self esteem and my command. It hasn’t been easy, because I’ve always struggled with insecurity.
We can learn to stop being insecure. We can learn how to build confidence in ourselves.
Building confidence in yourself is something that requires work, commitment and constant self evaluation.
It’s easier to be insecure than it is to be confident. Confidence requires you stand for something. Confidence demands you let go of people pleasing. This is a tough pill for people to swallow.
So how did I do it? How did I build self confidence? How did I stop being insecure all the time?
I will tell you.
1. Do Hard Shit, Even If You Don’t Think You Can Do It
There is value in breaking yourself.
You will never know how far you can go until you go too far.
Before we moved to Nashville, I used to swim at the LA Fitness in west Boca Raton. I really enjoyed that gym. It was big and had lots of equipment. Most of all it had a sauna and a pool.
One evening, I was feeling particularly down and anxious about my business. Stodzy was going through some hard changes and I was dealing with some personal issues that I couldn’t shake.
That night, something happened to me. I decided in that moment that I was sick and tired of feeling the way I felt. I grabbed my swim trunks and my goggles and I headed to the pool. I sat in the sauna for a few minutes and I got in the zone. I made the decision that I was going to swim 70 consecutive laps.
Not 68 laps. Not 70 laps with some breaks in between.
Once I started, I was going to swim non stop until I got to 70 laps.
Truthfully, I didn’t know if I could do it, but I knew I HAD TO do it.
At that point, the most I ever swam was 40 something laps. For some people, 70 laps may not seem like a big deal but for me, it was a real challenge.
I got started.
I tried to find my pace. Inevitably the doubt kicked in. I started losing control of my breathing. Then I would get in a good flow. I started to feel good. Then I started to get tired.
Then the doubt kicked in again.
It’s only been 30 laps. I’m not even halfway there. How do I do this?
When you’re swimming, you are trapped in your own mind. There’s no music. There’s no scenery. There’s no podcasts. You’re underwater in this parallel dimension. You can’t escape. You need to maintain composure at all times, or else you drown.
I got to 50 laps. My shoulders were killing me.
I got to 60 laps. I started getting charlie horses in my calves and in my feet.
Every stroke I took felt like my shoulders were ripping out of the sockets. It was agonizing.
65 laps in. 5 to go.
2 to go.
1 to go.
I did it. I got out of the pool and I laid down on the tile. People were stepping over me and I could see them looking at me through the glass door. They must have thought I was crazy. I was bent over, panting and howling in pain.
It was glorious.
I’ve had countless instances in my life when I did something that I wasn’t sure I could do. I train at Orange Theory for this exact reason. I take on more work than I can handle. I know I do it, I know I shouldn’t, but I have to.
Because I am naturally an insecure person. I have to do more then the guy next to me. I have to do more then everyone else because I want to win.
If you want to stop being insecure, you need to force yourself to be uncomfortable. Comfort is the fastest route to mediocrity.
2. Earn Respect By Earning Your Own Respect
Everyone knows someone who can walk into a room and command respect.
They don’t have to say anything. They don’t have to announce their presence. They just walk in and everyone can feel it. Somehow they have earned the respect of everyone around them.
How did they do that?
I think of Mike Thornton. Mike taught me how to build houses.
Mike was pretty quiet in that he wouldn’t say anything unless something needed to be said. He was big, wore flannels and had giant bear hands. Mike commanded respect from everyone he knew.
I would watch Mike for years, trying to figure out what he had that made people treat him that way. He wasn’t loud or brash, he wasn’t physically intimidating or threatening. But no one ever talked back to Mike or even said sarcastic things to him.
After years of observation, I came to some conclusion.
Mike had earned respect from everyone around him because he had earned his own respect. Mike had respect for himself.
Mike had earned his own respect with one simple philosophy.
He never negotiated with himself.
Mike was a volunteer fireman. If the alarm went off at three in the morning, he got up and he went to fight the fire. He didn’t get paid to do it. He could have easily slept in. But he never did. Mike decided that if the alarm went off, he was going to get up and help out.
Mike was at his garage at 7 am every morning. Mike worked until 5:30 every evening. It didn’t matter if it was freezing cold, blistering hot or a perfect day to spend on his boat. If it was a work day, Mike was at his garage.
Mike never took short cuts. Mike always used to say “we use the best products and we do the best work.” Simple as that. No negotiations.
I remember one time I went to go pick up some supplies for a roofing job we were doing. When I was checking out, I asked the guy at the register, “You’re sure everything is in here?” He assured me that all our supplies were there.
When I got back to the job, there were supplies missing. Mike was pissed.
I pleaded to Mike…
“I’m telling you man! I even asked the guy at the register and he told me that everything was accounted for.”
Mike looked me dead in the face and he said “But Tim, it didn’t happen.”
No negotiations. That was it. It didn’t happen.
If you want to earn the respect of others, you first must earn the respect from yourself.
As far as I can tell, the only way to do that is to keep your word. Keep the promises you make with yourself. Don’t flake out on yourself. Nothing says “I don’t respect you” like not doing what you say you’re going to do.
Why would it be any different for the conversation you have with yourself?
3. Being Mindful and In Control Of Emotions
I used to be an angry kid.
I would be lying if I said that I still didn’t see anger as a big part of my life, but I’ve learned how to channel those negative emotions into more positive behaviors.
Any time I was in a disagreement or a dispute of any kind, my anger would take over. It would control me
I used to think that screaming louder meant winning an argument. I used to think that being pissed off was the best way to get what I want. I didn’t know it at the time, but what was actually happening is that people were avoiding me.
Why would anyone want to be around someone who was always negative and foul?
I wasn’t winning at anything. I was isolating myself.
I would get in arguments and my heart would race out of control and I wouldn’t be able to keep cool enough to explain myself or stand up for myself or even give expectations to how I expected to be treated by other people.
I would just fight.
Fear and respect are two different things. In today’s world, fear will not get you to the mountain top. There are too many options for people. If people are fearful of you, they can simply avoid you.
In order to build confidence, you need to learn how to control your emotions. People won’t take you seriously if they know that you are easily thrown off kilter from anger or rage. People won’t appreciate your input if every disagreement ends in an argument.
Most of all, you won’t learn how to push past your insecurities if you feel like you are never taken seriously.
The real battle is not with other people, the real battle is not with your boss or your co workers or your spouse. The real battle is in your mind. It’s with the voice in your head that speaks to you in the same tone that you speak to other people.
As long as your emotions are running the show, you will always be insecure, because you will never be able to take yourself seriously.
Paying the Price
Too often, we look at people we admire and we convince ourselves that they “just have it” or that they are “born with it.”
It’s not true. It’s a myth.
Confidence and self absurdness are built just like any other character trait or skill. They don’t come for free and they don’t come over night.
The trick is the be patient enough to allow yourself to win small victories. Take baby steps and find comfort in the fact that none of this comes free to anyone. You are not especially cursed. In fact, it is the opposite. You are blessed.
The very fact that you are taking yourself and your life seriously enough to want to build your confidence gives you a head start over most of the people in our society.
Most people don’t want struggle. Most people are comfortable playing the victim role and living their lives with the belief that “things are the way they are.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can change, you can grow.
We all can.
You simply need to be willing to pay the price.
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