The #1 Thing Confident People Do Really Well

Photo by quokkabottles on Unsplash

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be.

But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.

Ernest Hemingway

Earlier this month I met up at a Starbucks with Peter (names changed), a former UCLA student of mine. As we were talking, a middle-aged woman approached us. She was out of breath as she pointed to Peter’s red water bottle, “Is that yours?” she asked with what I thought was an accusatory twinge.

Awkward!

Peter gave her a startled, “It’s mine!” To my New York eyes she had a “you’re lying” look in her eyes.

Peter stared at her and then did the most remarkable thing – he offered her his water bottle, asking, “Would you like to take it?”

“Is it yours?” she again asked.

“Yes.”

“Well, if it’s yours I don’t want it” – she said with more a whiff of confusion than annoyance.

Peter held it out saying, “You can have it – it seems the bottle meant a lot to you.”

This unusually kind gesture snapped her back into the moment. She was thrown off balance. As was I!

She left without the bottle. When I complimented Peter on his kindness, he shrugged, saying, “It’s just a water bottle. She seemed more invested in it than I am, so why not give it to her?”

Wow!

Peter thought little of the encounter – I, though, was blown away by his composed generosity.

In these weeks following I’ve been thinking about Peter’s particular style of confidence.

He was not quick to feel judged because he has such a solid sense of himself. This allowed him to practice an uncommon generosity to a stranger who was emotionally stressed.

Even as I write this I am in awe of his generosity BECAUSE that generosity is wonderfully grounded in a sense of confidence.

Peter adapted to the circumstance of the moment, took the woman and her situation in stride knowing that life is littered with the whack-a-do!

Doing something unexpected in a conversation, in a relationship – heck, in your life – takes confidence. SO – the question is – how do you develop that kind of confidence?

That kind of confidence is a choice.

Peter reminded me that we choose the kind of confidence we want to display in our daily life.

Confidence is manifested differently in each of us. For Peter – to be confident is to be generous.

You.

Me.

We each have to decide what confidence will look like and sound like in our own life.

After writing that last sentence, I stopped and reflected on what confidence looks like for me. I’m not terribly proud of my answer. . .

Because I was bullied growing up, I resolved when I was in college that I would never again allow anyone to verbally intimidate me (and, yes, there’s anger laced in that sentence).

I resolved to not be afraid of others who were physically imposing.

I decided to not be afraid of people whose lives were so very different from mine.

And, yes, because of the confident people who have been so generous to me, somewhere along the way I resolved to ground my confidence in generosity.

However, I’ve yet to give away my water bottle!

What does it mean to be confidently generous and not simply be nice or kind?

It means that you’re willing to act in unexpected ways that surprise both the other person and you!

It means acting out in specific gestures – offered because you want the other person(s) to experience something good.

It means being consistent in surprising others.

And to use my favorite Italian word, it means having a sense of sprezzatura * which is what makes confidence SO attractive.

Sometimes, while going about the business of confidence it’s easy to forget the hidden dimensions to being confident.

Peter reminded me that in its essence to be confident is to be generous.

Do you want to become more confident?

consider this:

·     If you were more confident, what would you do MORE of?

·     If you were more confident, what would you do LESS of?

·     What is the “water bottle” you can offer to someone this week? This month?

I typically begin my workshops with this observation from guru Seth Godin:

We need you to provide the things that are unexpected, scarce, and valuable. Scarcity and abundance have been flipped. High- quality work is no longer scarce. Competence is no longer scarce, either. We have too many good choices – there’s an abundance of things to buy and people to hire.

What’s scarce is trust, connection, and surprise.

In other words, what is scare is generosity.

And the #1 thing confident people really do well? They continually replenish that scarcity!

now THAT’s the business of confidence!

* graceful conduct or performance without apparent effort

Avoid Getting Your Buttons Pressed on Thanksgiving!

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation 

is not to utter words, but to live by them.

John F. Kennedy

Last Thanksgiving I went to friends’ home for dessert.

John’s (names changed) parents were at the table when I arrived. I’ve known them for many years and while they’re more socially and theologically conservative than I am, we’ve had a mutual affection. 

As soon as I sat down, John’s mom made a statement that centered on the two things you shouldn’t bring up at a holiday meal – religion and politics. 

What she said was factually incorrect and I instantaneously became irritated. 

My answer was snappish, though I pulled back (I think) in time before turning into a rude guest. 

John’s mom had a sarcastic comeback and I upped it! We both knew what had happened and we backed off.

I’m embarrassed that I snapped. 

I teach, write and speak about dealing with difficult people and in the heat of that moment, none of it meant anything. 

I was humbly reminded that, truly, old habits die hard.

Why did I care what this woman blathered on about?  

Well, she was wrong and I was “right” and here’s what went through my brain at lightning speed: 

“I think you’re being stupid and therefore I’m going to fix you – at the dinner table – and I better do it quickly because I only see you once a year.”

With that kind of thinking, who’s the “stupid” one?!

Truth be told, what I’m really annoyed about is that I’m not perfect and I wasn’t the person I wanted to be. 

I don’t want to be the smug guy who’s snappish with little old ladies who love Limbaugh! 

Here’s the thing – if you know you’re going to be spending time over the holidays with people who can push your buttons, be mindful of who you want to be and how you want to behave.

We always have a choice.

What does it mean to have a choice?

While I’m not sure I can tell you how to ‘survive’ the holidays, I will remind you of something crucial that you mustn’t lose sight of: people are consistent in what they say and do

I can promise you that if you’re going to share Thanksgiving with people you shared it last year, their behavior will be much the same. 

The most obnoxious person from last year probably will be just as obnoxious this year. Whoever fell asleep watching TV in the living room last year, most likely will fall asleep this year. And the person who bored you to tears last year will do so again Thanksgiving – unless they took a workshop from me this year! 

People are consistent. Holiday celebrations take on rituals of their own, within which we each play a role. 

Given that, what should you do with the relatives that drive you batty, if not to tears? 

Change. 

Change the way in which you deal with them because, if you don’t change, and they’re not going to change, then nothing is going to change and the 2022 holidays will again end up being from hell!

Consider: 

  • How do they press your buttons? 
  • Why do they have the ability to press those buttons? 
  • What’s really going on with those buttons?

Once you’re aware of what they’re doing, then you can decide if you are going to allow them to upset you. 

Understand that it really is a game. 

Consciously or unconsciously you and the other person are doing a relationship dance. 

Don’t like the dance? 

Then change your steps. 

 For instance, if someone asks you a rude or seemingly insulting question, rather than getting angry just play dumb!

Pretend you don’t understand what they mean and ask them to explain themselves. 

 Are you at the table with someone who has a history of deliberately riling you up? 

Laugh instead of getting annoyed. Do not give them what they want (your annoyance) and they’ll become frustrated and eventually move on.

You can make the holidays cheery and bright

OR 

miserable and bleak

The choice is YOURS!

now THAT’s the business of confidence!

The Real Key to Being Confident

photo by Ryan Cryar on Unsplash

The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.

Brenee Brown

Over the summer I helped a friend of mine who is Director of College Counseling at a private high school here in Los Angeles. Stephanie (names changed) hosted a college essay writing boot camp for incoming seniors. Applying for college is stressful for myriad reasons – one of them being that a student has to submit a personal essay that gives the colleges insight into their character.

I was moved by the students’ efforts and by their stories – stories that were raw and jumbled, in some cases inchoate, and all of them real and vulnerable.

Over lunch I shared these feelings with one of the teachers. Lara smiled and said, “They haven’t learned how to bullshit vulnerability!”

I hadn’t thought of it that way – and she was right. These high school seniors haven’t figured out how to pretend to be vulnerable because they haven’t learned how to lie to themselves – yet!

As the boot camp was winding down, I had a call from Walter, an attorney whose daughter was getting married that weekend. He needed help with his toast. The outline he shared with me sounded less like a toast and more like a roast. My first reaction was – ouch!

Walter didn’t want his toast to sound “sappy” which was a lighthearted way of saying that he didn’t want to be vulnerable.

Earlier this month, at one of my workshops on public speaking, a young woman asked me how a person goes about “getting” confidence.

Since my website is “the business of confidence,” I should have a canned answer – something pithy and clever that will make people smile.

But, I don’t!

How does a person go about “getting” confidence? 

Is confidence something you get?

OR

Is confidence something you do?

I’ve been thinking about the times I’ve been confident and the times I’ve not been confident. 

In all those situations where I felt confident, I was able to imagine the ME who I wanted to be. I was able to imagine that ME because I was willing to be vulnerable. I know it sounds counter-intuitive as confidence is often associated with cockiness.

When I think about some of my 2022 clients who have gone about the “business of confidence,” I think about Darren who became a lawyer – even though he had gotten his college degree only after being a union truck driver for thirty years.

I think about Nathan who has become the “go to” guy for his clients even though in the early days of his career he’d had difficulty starting a conversation in a Starbucks setting. 

I think about Ryan who wanted to stop being angry at his team and stop treating them with the harshness his father had treated him. And who has stopped.

What does it mean to “be confident” for each of these folks? 

Being confident is all about making peace with where you’re not confident 

Knowing that you no longer want to be uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons.

Growing in confidence where you are

+

Acting out in the manner that resembles who you are determined to be.

To be confident is to be willing to be uncomfortable – willing to be vulnerable.

Flip your fear. Find out what intimidates you and instead of shying away from it, be so inspired that you race towards it.

Lewis Howes

Yes!

AND – you can only race toward your fear if you are vulnerable.

Confidence doesn’t guarantee success.

You could do something you had been afraid of and then discover you don’t have the skills to succeed.

Or

What you finally do ultimately doesn’t give you what you thought you wanted.

Or

Gives you a different kind of success.

Confidence demands that we be willing to grow from the consequences of the choices we make – from both the successes and the mistakes.

Confident people practice being vulnerable by running towards their fear.

Rummage around these questions:

·     What is it you’re really afraid of?

·     How valid is the fear?

·     In what way YES and what way NO?

·     What is your goal?

·     Is it a goal or a wish?

·     Are you willing to be vulnerable so as to make that goal come real?

·     Where is your support to cheer on your vulnerability?

I don’t think confidence is something you “get.” 

Confidence is a decision – choosing action over paralysis.

Those students I helped with their college essays did not “b.s.” their vulnerability as they only knew how to be vulnerable.

Father-of-the-bride Warren learned that the greatest gift he could give his daughter and new son-in-law was the gift of his raw emotions.

The “business of confidence” is really the business of becoming comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s only in that uncomfortableness that one lives confidently.

now THAT’s the business of confidence!

Maybe A Ghost Story

Photo by Vino Li on Unsplash

Discover something new every day.

James Still

I recently visited a store in Toluca Lake that I frequent. Julian (names changed) is the associate who’s been helping me for almost a decade. He knows I write and teach and coach and he excitedly told me that he had a story that might interest me.  

It did, so here it is!

Julian’s family has a home that’s two hours outside Puerto Vallarta. It’s been in the family for generations.  

Down through the years, relatives and friends claimed to have experienced hauntings.  

Julian himself claims to have seen and felt “things” that he can only label as “ghosts.” His father-in law, though, scoffs at such nonsense.

Early this past summer, Julian and his family went down for the Quinceañera of his niece. Per tradition, the local Priest came to hear confessions.  

Julian’s father-in-law has no use for Church ritual and took a nap when the priest arrived. He fell asleep and some time later awoke, feeling like someone was pressing down on him. His legs shook uncontrollably and he freaked out.  

He screamed; people rushed in and – nothing.  He insisted, though, that someone had been on top of him.

Hey, it’s Halloween and what’s a LinkedIn post without a ghost story?! 

I don’t think Julian made-up this tale. Since I don’t know his in-law, I don’t know if the man is a jokester, had a nightmare or – if he really was assaulted by a ghost.  

What I do know is that there’s more to life than we can see.

Not only is there more than we can take in at any one time, I think we’re so overwhelmed that often we don’t pay attention to the little that we can see.

In Thornton Wilder’s classic play, “Our Town”, the lead character Emily dies in childbirth. Soon after, as a spirit she asks the character of the Stage Manager if she can return home to live out just one day. Against his better judgment, he agrees.  

Emily is moved by the simple beauty of ordinary life and stunned by how people are unaware of that beauty. Although invisible to her mother, she cries out, 

“Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me – 

it goes so fast we don’t have time to look at one another.”  

Back at the graveyard, she asks the Stage Manager, 

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?”

It’s easy to take life and others for granted.  

It’s also easy to take our own life for granted.  

The countdown for 2022’s end begins with the last piece of Halloween candy – so how do you want the year to end?  

. . .a few more pieces of Halloween candy. . .

When Chandler Massey won his first daytime Emmy for his role as Will on “Days of Our Lives” he was the odds-on favorite in his category, though he didn’t take the predictions seriously.  

In fact, he didn’t even bother to write an acceptance speech.  

He revealed to reporters that he hadn’t prepared a speech because he didn’t want to “jinx it.”  

He later regretted not writing one because he forgot to thank various special people, including his grandparents.

If I’m being honest – I am – the truth is I often have refrained from doing or saying something because I didn’t want to “jinx” it – whatever “it” is!  

So many of us engage in this primitive practice of superstition.

My father used to say, “Don’t get your hopes up because you don’t want to be disappointed.”  I followed his advice for years – and never got disappointed. I trained myself to focus on the negative and to downplay my talents, wishes and hopes. I learned to believe that hoping can only jinx happiness.

I’ve met many people who are reluctant to prepare for the best because that could be the direct cause of “the best” not happening. 

If you think about it, isn’t it amazing just how much power we think we have over the universe? Instead of, “build it and they will come” too many people assume the mantra, “don’t dream it and it will come about.”  

Had Massey written an acceptance speech, he still would have won since the mere act of writing would not have had the power to make all those winning votes magically disappear!

He engaged in superstitious thinking – and we all do it in some form or another.

Had Massey written his speech and lost, he would have been disappointed AND he would have had that thank you written so he could have sent it to those he loved.  

After all, he wasn’t thanking them for winning, he was thanking them for loving him and he didn’t need to wait to stand on stage with a trophy to do that!

Earlier I asked how you’d like 2022 to end – professionally and personally. 

Take a moment to jot down what you’d like to see happen. 

Then assess if your thinking or any of your beliefs are holding you back from creating the final months you’d like to experience.

Toss aside any superstitious thinking and with a clear eye see the possibilities. . .

Creating “the best” in your life is not about tricks or magic. 

Confident people know it’s all about strategy!

Now THAT’s the business of confidence!