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Strengthen your core confidence by doing small things that scare you



Strengthen your core confidence by doing small things that scare you

Nobody is born courageous—we become courageous by doing courageous things. The key is not to be foolhardy, but to learn to take action in the face of fear.

That builds confidence.


How are courage and confidence linked?


There’s a myth about courage. Some people believe courage is an absence of fear, but that’s not true. Courage is the acknowledgement of a reality, a situation that frightens you, without letting the fear stop you from doing what must be done. Hemingway defined courage as grace under pressure.


Confidence is the same way; it’s the ultimate mastering of a reality that may frighten us because that reality is a new experience. There is nothing more discouraging than wanting to make the most of a situation and being immobilized by a lack of confidence.  However, though we are born uninhibited, few of us are born confident. If we are born confident we tend lose that confidence when we encounter new situations. To regain or establish confidence we should do things which challenge us.


To do so without surrendering our good judgment, we should start small and build.


Starting at the easiest level of confidence building


There are two pieces of good news about building confidence. First, there’s a trick that will help you a lot. Second, we live our daily lives in a laboratory which seems almost designed to help us experiment with building confidence.


First, the trick: Start by doing things that have zero chance of failing. Being courteous is about as safe as you can get, and that’s where we start today.


Second, the laboratory.The laboratory that surrounds us is a world filled with people very much like ourselves in every important regard. Once we realize how much we all have in common, it’s much easier to experiment with our communication to build our confidence. Let’s look at three ways to experiment with communication to build confidence.


Our goal is to take harmless social action that causes us to confront our hesitation. If it makes you a little nervous, it’s working. Remember, too, to follow through. It’s a three step process which goes like this:


  1. Choose the person and the moment. By choosing you are being intentional and making a decision. These actions in themselves are powerful and put you in a position of advantage.
  2. Communicate a compliment. You are planning ahead to brighten someone’s day. Make this a habit by doing it often and you will find your confidence growing quickly.
  3. Close and depart. This is vital. You are maintaining self-control through the close and demonstrating by departing that you seek nothing from the compliment. This is magnanimity, or greatness of heart. Only the confident are generous.


Experimenting with courtesy


Being courteous is a form of exercising power by being generous with something that is free but rare: dignified kindness.


Courtesy is different from being polite. The word courtesy comes from the word courtly and means you are going above and beyond the merely polite to make someone else feel important and valuable. Learning to be courteous is one of the easiest ways to build confidence and bring value. The good news for those of us who want to be courteous is that courtesy is so rare these days that it has become very valuable, indeed. And, as such, an act of courtesy has an almost zero chance of failure.


And. Is. Very.Powerful.


One of the simplest ways to be courteous is to hold the door for someone. Whether you are a man or a woman, holding the door for someone else can be powerful, but especially if you add a courteous and well-planned comment.


Try this: hold the door for someone who is more than a few steps away. This heightens the drama of your act of courtesy because it slows things down.  As they approach, they will most likely make an effort to hurry.


This is when you say, “There is no need to hurry.”




It’s better if you motion with your hand, as well, to say, “Slow down, no rush.” As they slow their pace and walk through the door, say, “You deserve this.” It is vital to close out the experience gracefully and with finality so the other person does not suspect you of intruding, so be swift to go about your business and depart.


You can be confident you have just delivered value. Do this a few times and start to have more and more fun with it. Your confidence will increase.


Experimenting with eye-contact


Eye contact is also very powerful. While it’s true that experimenting with eye-contact could go a little wrong, if you prepare for that outcome and it does happen, your confidence will sky-rocket. Remember, too, that eye contact conveys different meanings in different settings.


Try this daring experiment.


Choose a stranger or perhaps someone you know in passing. Perhaps you see them in the elevator occasionally or on the train during your commute. Make eye contact with them—man or woman, it doesn’t matter—until it becomes just a little uncomfortable. Then, be ready to land it, meaning bring the exchange to a graceful, non-threatening close.


If you are a man, you may see another man who carries himself with confidence in a way you admire. Make eye contact with him and hold the gaze for a fraction of a second longer than you would normally do. A good way to ensure you are not sending the wrong message is to nod slightly as you look in his direction. This communicates that you are thinking, not admiring him. Another way to de-fuse a misunderstanding between men is to speak quickly upon making eye contact.


For instance, say, “Sir, you look ready for anything,” or, a little more assertive, “Excellent tie.”


Perhaps the most assertive and daring would be, “Sir, you carry yourself like a gun-slinger.”


It is the rare man who would not be complimented by that observation.


Note the use of the word, “Sir.” Some people think saying “Sir” makes them look weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Courtesy protects the weaker party. If you are initiating, you are the weaker party until you close, then you are immeasurably stronger.


If you are a woman complimenting a man, the trick is to compliment without over-connecting. For this reason it is best to compliment a man formally.


Ladies, try this daring experiment.


Look a man directly in the eye during a commute and say, “Good morning, sir.” Another option is to request permission before you compliment. It’s very simple. Ask, “Excuse me, may I pay you a compliment?” He (or she) will inevitably say, “Yes,” or “Of course.”


Then, if you are a woman you may say, “That is a lovely suit.” If you are a man, you may say one of the above compliments or “Excellent suit.”


It’s important that the compliment be sincere, so be on the lookout for good things to say.


Experimenting with questions


Questions are a lot of fun because they can be used in courtesy and also with eye contact experiments. For example, recently I held the door for another man. He was wearing a suit the pattern of which is called Prince of Wales Plaid. It’s one of my favorite patterns for a suit. I watched him and held the door as he approached. He thanked me for holding the door. In response, I said, “You bet,” then asked him as he went through the door, “Do you know what the pattern of your suit is called?”  He said, “No, I don’t,” and I replied, “That’s a Prince of Wales Plaid and it looks great.”


He was pleased to know the name of the pattern and said, “Oh, thanks a lot,” to which I said, “Yes, sir. Absolutely.”


Action relieves anxiety


In all cases, action relieves anxiety.


Action eradicates fear.


Try this drill.


Today, make eye contact with a stranger and hold that eye contact until it becomes uncomfortable, then break contact while maintaining control. Think it through. How would you break the contact? There are many ways, but play them out in your mind, first. If you are a woman looking at a man, you can say, “Oh, excuse me, but you remind me of my brother.” This is a solid, reliable way to begin to disengage. If you are a man looking at a woman, you can say, simply, “Thank you.” Pause. “You remind me of a close friend from long ago.”


This is faintly romantic and, if done with a smile, leaves a very good impression. Remember, you never want someone to feel in any way threatened. You want them to remember the interaction fondly.


A happy ending.


A quick, true story.  As I was walking out of an office building on a warm spring day I saw a convertible parked in front of the building. There were three attractive young ladies in the convertible and the top was down. I paused (to increase the drama and slow things down), smiled and said,


“For a moment I thought I had died and gone to heaven.”


The young ladies laughed as I smiled and then we were all laughing together.

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Can You Receive A Compliment Without It Getting To Your Head?



a compliment (1)

Receiving compliments gracefully isn’t as easy as it should be for some people. How about you: are YOU ready for someone to give you a pat on the back? To be pushed to doing more? To have someone give you a supporting hand? To be picked up when you fall down?

Sure, we may think that’s what we want. But is it what we need to develop, to grow, and to get better?

If someone complimented you on every little improvement you made while learning a new skill, would you not start to feel a bit marginalized? That perhaps they didn’t really think you could do it? What about when you do something that seems pretty easy and everyone made it into a big deal?


Receiving Compliments When You Are Not Ready For It

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

Developing new skills is never free of trouble. We all know the level of foundation that must be built to get from being a novice, before reaching greatness. In the learning process, we all know when we are in that frustrating stage of not being quite as good – but we know what we have to do to get there.

It’s in these moments that receiving compliments on your every action could minimize your efforts. That’s because if they truly knew you, people would be holding out for when you make that big, defining leap. 

As we overcome hurdles in our learning and development, friends, family members, and colleagues will know when the time is right to provide encouragement. They know that when that moment comes, those words will have the right amount of impact on you.

Think back to when you were growing up, playing some elaborate game. Perhaps you spent hours creating this game: building a fort, putting together things that the rest of your characters in the play could use. You pushed through despite the trials and problems.

It would have served absolutely no purpose for someone to congratulate you on every step (and misstep) along the way.  You would have lost your flow as you worked through the problem, constantly being interrupted – all while you were still trying to figure it out and understand where you needed to go.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments


When Receiving Compliments Makes You Content with Present Achievements

You might never have finished if someone patted you on the back early in that moment, content in the knowledge that you “thought up” the idea and that was enough. If everyone was saying you did great simply for thinking up something new, would it have compelled you to stop?

Maybe. Perhaps you would have stopped with that compliment.

As a parent, you learn when to encourage your children. Usually, it’s not when they show up, and not when they do what kids around them are able to do as well. It’s when they push themselves to do more. When they pick themselves up and still lose, when they try something new for the first time, fall over and fail, not sure if they should do it again.

Those are the moments when kids should be receiving compliments – NOT when they have done the same thing over and over again, or when they didn’t try their best but won anyways.

Kids know this. They can feel it when people give false compliments or encouragement because they did something they’ve always done. But when it is something meaningful, something they have worked hard for, they know the encouragement will be there to help them.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

The reason you might not be receiving compliments or encouragement when you want to is because you haven’t earned them or don’t deserve them yet.

Maybe your coaches, leaders, parents, or other people who support you know you are not ready for it. Perhaps they need to see you making that next big leap in your growth and development.

Those compliments might not come today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. But look at those around you – the great people you have chosen to surround yourself with – and you’ll see that they are waiting to give you that push. They are waiting for you to make it happen.

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3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart




when your dreams are falling apart (1)

I truly believe that dreams must extend beyond wishes of self-improvement; that its goal should be to contribute to the world around you.

The heart is a fickle thing. Imagine how many amazing things wouldn’t have been accomplished if great minds simply stopped when they “didn’t feel like it”.

It’s human nature. I’m sure that during the course of over 300 bank rejections, Walt Disney had days when he felt like giving up. But he didn’t. He kept going. Why? It was because his dream went far beyond himself.

Here’s how YOU can keep going – even if it feels like your dreams are falling apart.


3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

1.) Remember The “Why”

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

Often times, I find that dreams extend far beyond the simple purpose of making one happy. For example, being a songwriter in and of itself does not make me feel happy and fulfilled. Imagine if my life’s work was to write songs that no one would ever hear. That doesn’t elicit any feelings of happiness or fulfillment (at least to me).

Seeing and hearing the healing effects that come from the songs I create for others to hear? Now you’re talking. Healing and helping others is the part of my dream that keeps it alive. It gives me purpose in this world that goes far beyond myself and my skills.

I’m reminded of the character Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Scrooge’s goal in life was to have money – and lots of it. He set aside love and relationships for that dream. The result of this life goal was a lonely, cold, bitter old man.

I won’t ruin the whole story for the very few of you that may not have heard it. In the end, Scrooge discovered that what brought him fulfillment and happiness were community and generosity.

So what is the “why” to your dream? How is your dream going to affect those around you? Get beyond yourself. As many have said, YOU are your biggest obstacle to success.


2.) Take Off The Rose-Colored Glasses

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

You know what I’m talking about. The “I’m going to make it big” and “I’m going to famous/rich/etc.” I hate to take a pointy realistic needle to your big ideas, but I’m doing it out of love. Here it is:

Your dream isn’t going to look exactly how you pictured it.

Take a minute to take that one in. Still here? Yes. Alive? Yes. Not Bleeding? No? Hurt a bit?

It’s OK. I know. I’ve been there. Dreams are vulnerable. We spend countless hours imagining what it would be like and how we will get there. But the truth is, in my experience, they have never turned out exactly how I have imagined. Why? We live in a world of people and circumstances that we can’t control.

Here is where the “why” comes in. The beautiful thing is that your works are a direct result of your heart’s intention…and what you put out into the world never comes back void. Here’s an example:

As a singer-songwriter, the common idea of making it big for my line of work is to have a hit song or perform in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden (I’m more inclined towards Red Rock Amphitheatre, but you get the picture).

Let’s say that I work and strive tirelessly to do everything I need to do to reach that goal. I release a song, I tour around the US, develop a large following, get on the radio, etc. Along the way, I hear stories of how this song has impacted the people who have heard it. Stories describing how it brought healing, encouragement, and hope.

To go further, what if I never even make it that far? What if circumstances happen and I can’t tour? What if everything “falls apart”? What if I end up playing at open mics for the rest of my life? What if it doesn’t happen in the next year? Two years?

Does that change the fact that my song helped heal and open the heart of a broken and depressed Vietnam Vet? Or how it helped encourage an author to keep going and writing? Or how my song started a conversation on how to look past the labels overshadowing soldiers and their families?

It’s all about your perspective of success, my friend. To me, because my “why” and my heart’s intention are to help people, those stories above are my version of success. It’s what keeps me going. If I get to Madison Square Garden (or Red Rocks), well that’s just icing on top of the cake.

Keep going on your dream. Make a plan, and in the words of .38 Special, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” Roll with the punches and understand that even greater things can come when things don’t go according to your plan.


3.) Make Your Dream Your Job

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

No, I don’t mean quit your job and have no income while you work on your dream. That’s an entirely different article (and completely up to you). I’m talking about treating your dream like it is your job.

For example, if you completely failed at a presentation at work, would you just quit and not go the next day? No! You have a livelihood and an expectation to show up. So why quit on your dream at the first sign of failure?

Treat your dream like your job. Make a plan, show up every day, and understand that it may take a while to see any results. I know many songwriters who wrote hundreds of songs before they wrote a hit. However, they never would have reached it if they didn’t take that first step, made a commitment, and wrote 100 songs first.

Dreams don’t just happen. They take work. So go get started!

My best advice under this theme is check out the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It is by far the best resource I have discovered in my journey of living out my dream.

Here’s the deal. With every goal that I have set and achieved, I never sat at the end and thought to myself, “man, look at what I did”. Believe it or not, I was more overwhelmed with the thoughts of the journey that I had to take to get there – the good and the bad.

I would admire and laugh at the unexpected things that came. I would smile and enjoy the character it built, the person that I became in the process. In the end, the best thing about dreams and goals isn’t their achievement, but the journey that you take to get there.

Never forget that the dream in your heart was put there for a reason. You were made to make an impact on this world.

Enjoy the journey and never, ever give up. Keep going.

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