The Confidence Guy

Wired into Truly Confident Living

May 17

leapTina was a client who told me how she’d given a great presentation once, but has bottled it every time since then

Rob mentioned to me that he’d bungee jumped once when he was travelling around Australia, but has held himself back from leaping into the abyss ever since.

Ella explained to me how she once opened up emotionally to her partner and revealed a vulnerability, but has since built those walls up again and doesn’t know how to talk openly.

One of the first things I ask a new client is “Tell me something you’ve done that took confidence”, and I’ve given you just 3 examples from a couple of hundred.

Giving a great presentation once doesn’t mean you’re a great presenter – you just gave a great presentation once.  Going bungee jumping once doesn’t mean you’re always ready to leap – you just let gravity do its thing once.  And opening up emotionally doesn’t mean you’re an open, emotionally intelligent person – you just let the moment take you once.

Confidence is being able to trust your behaviour with implicit trust in that behaviour, and that’s not a one-time thing.  That’s why I always ask that question, because I know it makes 2 things abundantly clear.

Confidence is always there.

It’s easy to be confident when you’re feeling confident, just as Tina, Rob and Ella found.  You could say that the 3 of them had a distinct lack of feeling not-confident; they found themselves in a place where there was no un-confidence; the one thing that was absent from each of their experiences was a loss of confidence.  See what I’m getting at?

Your confidence never goes away.  It diminishes the more you ignore it or when you forget it, but it’s always there waiting for you to use it.  More and more I’m seeing confidence as your natural state.  It’s how you are when all the crap that gets in the way of you feeling confident is removed.

That’s my favourite thing about confidence – it’s like the very best friend you never had.  You can bad-mouth it, disparage it, ignore it and even punch it square in the jaw, and it will always be there, willing to help you.

Watching a client as they discover that THEIR confidence is right there, waiting for them, is simply awesome.

Confidence is applied at the point of change

Confidence has to be applied at the point of change – the point that tips what happens next one way or the other – and it needs to be applied consistently.

The point of change is that moment in time where you choose between fear and action, doubt and decision, function and dysfunction, capability or disability, strength or weakness, assumption or insight.  That list goes on, but the only way you get to choose which way to go is to be mindful of the point of change itself, and then to mindfully apply confidence.

How do you that?

Practice.

Practice is the only way you can train your brain in a new way of thinking; it’s the only way to set up new patterns of thought that work better and become the norm for you.  You gotta show your brain that the way it’s done things in the past might not be the best way, and if you can come up with a more effective way then your brain will love it.

See it and apply it, and your life will be every bit as extraordinary as you always hoped it would be.

What’s something you’ve done that took confidence?
Have trouble applying confidence at the point of change?
Feel like your confidence ISN’T there waiting for you?

Let me know in the comments.

May 03

Ready to throw away your plans?“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” – Joseph Campbell

Here’s a toughie.  Could your plans actually be stopping you from getting what you want rather than helping you get what you want?  Could the plans you’ve carefully put in place be more of a hindrance than a help?

I’ve recently chatted with a few people who have big plans.  They’re going somewhere, have clear ideas about what that looks like and the steps they need to take to get there.  Their big plans are broken down into small steps and they have a good idea of what they need to do next week, next month and next year.  They have a clear investment in the plans they’ve made for their career, their social life and for their romantic life.

Some go into greater detail than others – one guy I spoke with had looked at the stats and established that he has a 60% chance of getting married in the next five years, and he’d started making contingency career plans based on that probability.  He was putting plans in place having considered a demographically based statistical projection of what was likely to happen to him over the next 5 years.  That’s pretty darned detailed.

As a responsible personal development professional I’m supposed to be right behind this kind of focus, and I should be trumpeting all of this goal-setting and planning.  I should be congratulating these people for their mature and responsible approach, and for having a firm hand on their rudder.  After all, fail to plan and you’re planning to fail, right?

Well, I for one don’t believe it, for 3 very good reasons.

1. Plans replace meaning
Details can consume you.  Planning can easily fall into the trap of being all about the detail and nothing about the meaning, vision or distinct value of the undertaking.  Keep on planning and you’ll keep on seeing the detail, never the big picture.

In my freelancing I’m sad to say that I see this a lot – mountains of impressive looking detail, but none of it adding up to very much.

2. Life doesn’t go to plan.
You can have the most fool-proof plan ever devised, everything laid out nice and neatly and orderly, and life will come along, spill red wine all over them, call you a useless fecker, then kick over the table they were laying on and do an Irish jig right on top of them while wearing dirty work boots.

(Yes, in this metaphor life is an Irish labourer who drinks cheap Shiraz, loves Riverdance and swears like a drunken docker).

The most essential ingredient to any great plan is to have it be flexible enough to throw away if you need to.  Which leads me to my third point.

3.  You grow by letting things go.
What you want now might not be what you want next year.  And I very much doubt it’ll be exactly what you want ten years from now, or even five years from now.

Hearing what’s next in your life can be impossible when all you can hear is the hum from the plans you’ve made.

It’s easy to miss an intriguing, hidden path when your eyes are fixed on the map you drew before you left home.

Sometimes you gotta add things to your life to move it forwards, but other times it’s what you remove that allows your life to take shape.  Letting go not only frees you up from your out-dated assumptions and rules, but it gives you strong, undeniable evidence of your ability to learn and grow.

It’s by letting go that you get the best shot at the life you really want.

When it’s right to give up the life you planned

People hoard things and clutch things tightly out of insecurity – having “stuff” around you that you put there makes you feel safe and makes you feel like you’re in control of your environment.  Same goes for plans, and you have to know when you’re making plans because you want a comfort blanket.

It’s easy for plans to become noise and clutter – full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  If you’re pouring more focus, time, energy or spirit into your plans rather than the right now, I’d suggest that something’s out of kilter.  Yes, giving up long held plans is probably the most courageous thing you can ever do in your life, but focus too much on your plans and you’ll miss out what’s right there in front of you.

Sometimes in life, your plans are the very thing that keeps you from the life that’s waiting for you.

Are you guilty of over-planning?
Does it feel like you can’t let go of what you thought you had to do?
Or are you just terrified of going off-plan?

Let me know in the comments.

Apr 21

BBC: Cut the CrapA lot of people will look at this blog and think it’s piled to the rafters with nonsense.  Others will think it’s hitting nails on heads all over the place.  If you’re in the former group then let’s say cheerio right now and go our separate ways.  If you’re in the latter group, hi *waving*.  I’m good with both.

To be fair, there is some stuff on here that I think is nonsense, just like there’s a lot of stuff out there in the world that I think is nonsense too.  Organised religion.  The idea that Law of Attraction will cure my ME.  The 4 hour body.  The heaps of maverick entrepreneurs telling you how to launch your own business online and make heaps of money.  People with an endearably inaccurate view of what they do.  Self-appointed “mavens”.  Katie Price.  The list goes on.

Nonsense = No Sense

Confidence requires honesty with yourself, and if you’re spinning yourself a heap of nonsense – and falling for it – it becomes easy to self-validate by spinning that nonsense to others.

We all see things that make no sense, some easier to spot than others.  Normally I just kinda roll my eyes and move on, but in a fit of cantankerousness here’s some of the crap that I think needs to be cut.

You gotta know where you’re lying to yourself.
If you’re telling yourself a story that everything’s swell when in fact things are falling apart, you gotta call it and get real.  We all lie to ourselves about certain things – eating this extra piece of pie doesn’t mean I’m breaking the diet. I’ll just hang on for a few more months to see if things turn around. It’s the wrong time to make my move. I really do want to be with them.  Sometimes it’s fairly harmless, but other times it’s immensely damaging.  I lied to myself about my spending habits for several years, and consequently I’m encumbered with huge debts.  I lied to myself about a career that was destroying me, and was surprised when it destroyed me.

You gotta know if you’re wasting time or treading water. Similar in some ways to lying to yourself, wasting time and treading water is the last resort of the terminally indecisive.  Putting off a decision or deciding to wait a bit longer to make a decision IS making a decision.  Don’t fool yourself that it’s a positive choice, it isn’t.  There is no sideways in life.

You gotta know if you’re listening to assholes.
There are a lot of people who will say what you want to hear.  There are a lot of people who will offer the earth, take your money and deliver dirt.  Do we really need any more people telling us how to really make six figures online?  Do we really need any more people peddling self-development clap-trap that is more likely to confuse or limit than to clarify or expand?

I’m no font of wisdom and never profess to be.  I’m figuring this all out as I go, and I’d never claim to have all the answers.  My business is based on trust, and if I was to forget that and deliver a message that compromises that or betrays it, then I stray into asshole territory.

So check the messages that you’re taking in.  If you’re only taking in messages that you want to hear or fit with the way you already see things, get real.  There are some genuinely insightful, interesting, expansive and valuable people out there with great messages, great content and great offerings.  Seek those people out.

You gotta know if you’re chasing a lifestyle.
Some people would like you to believe that their lifestyle is one that you should pursue.  They say “Look at what I’ve done, look at how I live my life – don’t you want that too?” and then proceed to lay down how they’ve come to be where they are.

Now this is potentially a tricky one, because learning from other people can clearly be immensely valuable.  My problem with it is when someone goes from sharing insights into their lifestyle and inviting discussion to selling the idea of the lifestyle as a solution (whether it’s location independence, entrepreneurship, working 4 hours a week, becoming a pick-up artist or the latest trend of embracing minimalism).

A lifestyle that works for one person won’t work for another, and while it’s easy to be seduced by what we think a lifestyle will bring us and mean to us it’s the wrong motivation.  Don’t look at the resulting lifestyle, look at the resulting impact of the actions taken and the meaning of that impact – that’s the distinct value.

You gotta know if you’re wrong.
If the whole world is always wrong and you’re always right, one of two things is happening.  Either you’re decades ahead of your time and have reached the very pinnacle of genius, or you’re wrong.

Arranging things in your head so that you’re right does not make you right, and neither does it help you achieve any kind of meaningful success.  There’s tangible value in admitting that you’re wrong; value you’ll never realise if you’re continually caught up in the crap-trap of being right.

What’s so good about being real anyway?

I love fantasy, and part of me is still holding out to marry Uma and live happily ever after on Malibu beach.  We’d have Brangelina over for dinner at the weekend, run along the beach with our dog Brinkley, and spend 2 hours a day showering together (in the interests of cleanliness, of course).

But there’s a big difference between fantasy and reality. Reality can include dreams and ambition – which can sometimes be fuelled or influenced by fantasy – but the point of reality is about taking repeated, meaningful action towards what matters.

The point of reality is that you can put a dent in it.

Same goes for me.  Whatever I do here has to have real value or there’s no point in me doing it.  Everything I write and every product I create has to be able to make shit happen for you, and I’ve got to be confident enough to call it when I’m talking crap and not being real.

I gotta practice what I preach, and this is where you come in.  I need you to remind me when I’m talking nonsense and not getting to the distinct value.  And I need you to do the same with your stuff.

So tell me, where do you think I need to cut the crap?
What are you busy with that you’d be better off without?
What crap do you want to cut?

Apr 12

Negative peopleSome folks just don’t get it.  They whine, moan, bitch, drain, attack, snipe, sabotage and sometimes just suck you dry.

If you let them, they’ll take away from what you’re doing, and in the extreme they can make you feel miserable, powerless and totally unconfident.  Here’s how to deal with them confidently.

1. Set expectations

Sometimes people carry on in a negative pattern of behaviour simply because it’s what they’re used to doing.  It’s become normal for them, and the only way for them to see that it’s inappropriate, unwanted or unacceptable is for it to be pointed out to them.  This isn’t about criticizing their behaviour because that will just end up in a slanging match, but it’s about stating what you expect clearly and assertively.

It’s perhaps easier to do this in a work environment where’s there’s a structure in place to support you (in which case a manager or boss can do the expectation reset), but they key is to take away the drama while making clear the behaviour you want to see.

2. Reassure and empathize

Sometimes negative behaviour arises when someone’s out of their comfort zone, under a lot of pressure, seeing others getting more praise or attention or when they’re feeling unsupported themselves.  See if you can figure out the reasoning for the behaviour to gain an insight into where it’s coming from. Then, being aware of the catalyst, seek to reassure.

You don’t need to acknowledge it directly (pressing that button can be intensely personal for the person in question) but just keep an eye out for situations where it might be sparked and seek to dampen it even before it has a chance to catch.

3. Affirm the positive

A puppy learns what behaviour is appropriate and acceptable because he or she gets a treat afterwards.  Same thing goes with human beings. Okay, we’re somewhat more evolved than a 3 month old lab (although not as cute), but praising and affirming the acceptable behaviour is a strong message.

So acknowledge the kind of behaviour you love to see when you see it, and you can even use that as an example for when you see the opposite, unwanted behaviour.

4. Get outa dodge

If being around this person is dragging you down and you’re able to separate yourself without taking away from what matters to you, do it.

Don’t hang out with them as much.  Be polite in the office but don’t spend time beyond that.  Join a team where they’re not involved, or simply cut the cord if that’s what it takes.You only have so much time and energy, and pouring it into a black hole of negativity won’t help you put your dent in the universe.  Sometimes, you just gotta get the hell outa dodge.

5. Don’t join them

The last thing you want to do is to join them in their negativity, but if you start sniping back, moaning to other people, getting into a debate or argument or criticizing their behaviour then you’re being just as negative as they are.

Don’t let their behaviour serve as an invitation to join them, you’re better than that.

6. Help them

Negativity can stem from anger, frustration, pain or any one of a gazillion other negative emotions.  There’s a good chance that someone who’s being negative isn’t having a great time of things, and sometimes an offer to lend them a hand can make a huge difference.

Don’t set out to rescue them, but the biggest difference often comes from the smallest gesture.  Offer to help them out with something, ask them how they’re doing or see if there’s something they could use a hand with.  Let them know you’re happy to help.

7. React differently

It’s easy to get to a point where you’re hopping up and down in frustration or wanting to shake them to show them what they’re doing.  It’s easy to work yourself up into a frenzy and tell yourself stories that reinforce how “annoying” they are or how “right” you are.

Slow down; notice how you’re reacting and what stories you’re spinning.

You always get to chose how you react to what life throws at you, so ask yourself if there’s a way you can respond or a new way of looking at it that makes it easier for you to be at your best.  How can you turn around your perceptions of them?  Are there parts of their behaviour that you’re ignoring or not even noticing?  What if you were to look at them with kindness or generosity?  There’s always another way.

How about you?  How have you dealt with negative people?  And if you’ve been that negative influence, what did you do?

Mar 29

Give a damn: Banned Books Week 2008Why the hell should you give a damn?

Really.  Why should you?

It struck me recently that if there’s nothing at stake or if nothing’s at risk in life then you’re living in a curious equilibrium.

The gravity of where you are negates the pull of where you want to be going, resulting in stasis.  You don’t move.  Things continue as they are.  Nothing much changes.

On the surface that might not seem like a big deal, especially if you believe yourself to be perfectly happy where you are.  But, as Jonathan Fields pointed out – “There is no coasting.  There is no neutral.  No sideways.

Just ask the next space-dwelling-dude you see and he’ll tell you that living in zero-gravity will, over time, result in muscle atrophy.  The same goes for you and your life.

Live long enough in a state of equilibrium or stasis and the muscles that support your ability to live a rich, meaningful life will atrophy.  I’m talking about your confidence muscle.

The only way to stop that atrophy – that long, slow death – is to make something in your life worth giving a damn about.  You gotta care about something so much that it makes you stand up and move.  You gotta be engaged enough to raise the stakes and put something on the line.

If nothing’s at stake, just what the hell are you doing?

Tell me, what’s at stake for you?  Or maybe you’re in that place of curious equilibrium?  Let me know in the comments.

Mar 22

How to Quit Like a ProContrary to popular belief, quitting isn’t always the easy option. Leaving something (a job, a relationship, a place) can often be the hardest thing to do in your life.

You go round in circles and second guess your decisions.  You look in fear at what might happen if you quit.  You decide that “sticking it out” a while longer is the best thing to do, or you hold back from making a decision at all (which, as you well know, is also a decision).

In other words, it’s easy to lose confidence in your decisions and your judgement, and the ensuing confusion is enough to befuddle even the smartest of bears.

So here are a handful of thoughts on how you can keep your head, think confidently and quit like a pro.

1. Go Before The Damage is Done

Waiting until you’re hurting is waiting too late, the damage has already been done.  There’s a simple equation here – if you can’t afford (on a personal, emotional level) the cost of staying, get out.  Where a job or relationship is at the point where it’s costing you your self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth there’s only one way things will go if you stay put.

Of course, this kind of damage tends to happen gently and almost imperceptibly over a period of time, and this erosion of self is the worst kind of death.  Slow, uninterrupted, heart-breakingly sad and totally unnecessary.

You might not notice the change in how you feel and how you think, but you sure as hell notice that you’re not having a good time.  The longer you put up with it the more damage it does to your confidence, so the trick is to remember that the circumstance you find yourself in doesn’t determine your choices and your behaviour – you can always make a choice.

Don’t wait for a crisis point, you’re worth so much more than that.

2. Don’t Deceive Yourself

Pretending that everything’s peachy when it’s oh so wrong is freakishly commonplace.  You hear you telling yourself what you need to do, but you keep your head down and tell yourself to just hang on a bit longer, things might change.

Sure, things might change.  Oprah might become Queen of Denmark and butter might become the new penicillin.

Don’t kid yourself; listen to what you’re really saying instead.  The things that matter to you matter for a reason – they’re the things will bring you a great life.  Ignore what matters or turn away from the stuff that means something and you’re kidding nobody else but you.

So if quitting gives you the opportunity to go towards what matters, you gotta listen.  Deal?

3. Calculate Collateral Damage

It’s not all about you (sorry to break it to you).  Throw a pebble into a still pond and what do you get? Ripples. And potentially wet feet.

Leave a job under a cloud or leave in the wrong way and it might damage your reputation.  Leave on bad terms and it may damage a current relationship or a future one.  Leave too rashly and it may damage your finances.

So it’s worthwhile to consider the effect of the ripples that spread from your decision to quit (and the manner in which you quit), and any potential damage that might be either a. irreversible or b. in conflict with your values.

If the collateral damage will be irreversible, is that a price you’re willing to pay or is it just too important to you?  If it’s reversible, what damage limitation measures can you implement and what are you willing to do to reverse it?

More importantly, if the ripples of quitting directly causes something to happen that flies in the face of your personal values (the things that mean the most to you) then you’re gonna find it very, very hard to live with yourself.

Consider the cost of collateral damage, but – and this might be somewhat controversial – this should always be secondary to points 1 and 2.

Quitting Isn’t Wrong

Sometimes quitting is the best thing you can do, for you and for everyone else.  There’s a dangerous idea out there that quitting is what losers do, but I think that’s deeply, deeply flawed. Quitting is often the boldest, most courageous, most lip-smackingly brilliant move you can make.

So how about you?  Have you struggled with quitting?  What have you just quit, or what would you love to quit?

Mar 08

Stop sitting on your awesomeYou’re probably reading this while seated comfortably on your tuckus, but would you be quite so comfortable if you knew that you were also sitting on your awesome?

Because you probably are.

You’d know immediately if you were sitting on your stapler, scissors or keys, but it’s much harder to know whether you’re sitting on your awesome, your extraordinary and your brilliant.

Er…What the Hell are you talking about?

What I’m talking about are all of those moments when you pull back from something because:

  • you don’t want to come across as aggressive, egotistical or spotlight-seeking.
  • you don’t want to rock the boat or throw a stone into a still pond.
  • you want to avoid attention or sidestep praise.

So you hide your insights and your capability, because that’s what it feels like you ought or need to do.  You think that if you did put your head above the parapet and took a step forwards, that in some way it would be inappropriate, that you’d be doing something wrong or that it might even be even “bad”.

So you sit on your awesome.

OK, so what Is appropriate then?

The appropriate thing is to do what matters.

If holding back flies in the face of something that matters to you, if it suppresses what has personal meaning or dishonors your values, then you’re setting up an internal conflict between what you “should” do and what you know you “could” do.

That does 2 things.  It leaves the situation untouched by the quality of capability that you could bring to it, and it leaves you being less than.

Sitting on your awesome takes away any measure of personal power you might have.

I read recently about the idea of productive humility, an idea from Matt Ridings that he describes as the “difference between the quest for significance and that of selfish ambition; the difference between personal significance and pride; the difference between self-abasement and realistic self-assessment and the difference between confidence and arrogance”.

It’s an idea that fits perfectly with the way I approach building confidence; it has nothing to do with being arrogant, being something you’re not, or pretending to be confident.  It has everything to do with honoring what matters to you in a way that’s congruent with your values.

That’s where your power is.  That’s where your awesome is.

I’m with Matt.  Feel free to sit on your stapler, just don’t sit on your awesome.

Mar 01

Trembling.Ever had a moment when your confidence disappears into thin air?

It’s pretty likely that you’ve had that happen, and wouldn’t you just know it, your confidence never vanishes while you’re doing something trivial like brushing your teeth or watching TV.  You never pick up the tooth brush and say to yourself, “Oh shit, I can’t do this.  I’m crap at brushing my teeth and look, there they are in the mirror staring right at me being all toothy.  Maybe I’ll just skip it today.  Hey, if I just go back to bed and pretend to be sleeping I won’t need to brush my teeth.

Your confidence has a habit of vanishing just when you need it the most.  When you’re about to make a big decision or when you need to dig deep to follow through.  Or when you need to step out of your comfort zone, or realize that you’re way out of your comfort zone and wonder how quickly you can sprint back to it.

What do you do in those moments?  What would help in those moments?

Here are a few ideas that might help when you lose your confidence.

1. Recognise that any confidence-stripping thoughts are only thoughts

These thoughts are simply mental events just like any other thought that runs through your head.  “I have a blue car”, I like eggs” and “I’m going to be just fine” are other popular thoughts that you could focus on.

2. These thoughts don’t have to dictate what happens

The problem comes when you take thoughts like “I’m not confident enough” and “I can’t do this” and make those your focus, so the first step is to notice the thought, to take a moment to notice the state of your mind in that very moment.

Think of these confidence-stripping thoughts like a stormy weather system. A black cloud, heavy rain, high winds, maybe even some lightning. Oooo, looks serious doesn’t it? But picture yourself up in an aeroplane, soaring above the clouds through the clear blue sky, able to look down and see that black cloud plus a bunch of white fluffy ones, oh and look…sometimes there are no clouds at all, allowing you to see the landscape beneath.

You can see it all from the comfort of your seat in the sky, and it all looks amazing. Thoughts are just like passing weather, so don’t judge that confidence-stripping thought and don’t turn it into a problem. Simply acknowledge open-heartedly how your thoughts are going.

3. Remember the important stuff

Remember what it’s like to be at your best.  Remember what it’s like to be firing on all cylinders and playing your best game.  Remember what it’s like to be with friends or family – at ease, smiling, laughing and how being yourself comes naturally.

Remember what you’ve already achieved.  Remember that you’ve stretched yourself before and not only are you still here, but you’re glad you stretched yourself.  Remember what’s important to you.  Remember what really matters.

4. Reassure yourself

The more you focus on the things that could go wrong your confidence dips lower and panic can set in, so what can you tell yourself that would make it okay to keep going forwards?  What picture can you create that would help you get back in the saddle?  How can you make friends with those confidence-stripping thoughts and reassure them that you’ll be okay?

That reassurance serves to take away the drama and helps to turn a calamitous thunderstorm into a welcome Spring shower.

5. Make a new choice

You’re always able to make a choice, but only once you’ve got an awareness of the moment as well as what really matters. So what decision would you make if you knew you were more than capable of dealing with whatever happened? How would it be different if you went into the situation feeling on top of the world?

What’s a decision you can make based on capability and possibility rather than disability and probability?

6. Focus on other people

I’ve found that when my confidence leaves me my thoughts spiral inwards.  Round and round and tighter and tighter they go, leaving me mummified and unable to move.  A trick I’ve learned in these situations is to interrupt that inward spiral and focus on the people around me and what I can offer them.  I focus on what I’m able to give rather than how I can protect what I have.

That’s just a handful of thoughts on what to do when you lose confidence, so how about you?  How do you deal with your confidence-vanishing moments?

Feb 22

You look confused and you dont know what to doEver feel that sometimes you’re missing out on who you were supposed to be because you’re so busy being who everybody – including you – expected you to be?

It’s a fairly well-worn, twee and whimsical concept, the idea that there’s someone who you’re supposed to be.  Something you’re supposed to be doing with your life.  Gifts that you’re supposed to be using.  A difference you’re supposed to be making.

But like most folk tales, there’s some truth to it.  I think you probably know it too.

The thought that you’re in the wrong place doing the wrong thing is one that’s just too daunting and colossal for many to face.  I know, because I told myself the same thing for years and lost my mind as a result.

The IT career I’d carved out for myself lacked everything that I cared about the most – creativity, fun, connection and the opportunity to build something that actually makes a difference.  But I carried on regardless, ignoring how unhappy I was because I so was busy pretending to be happy all the time.

Continually burying the thought that I was supposed to be someone else and doing something else, I completely destroyed my self-confidence and became totally lost.

You’re the only one…

I had to put myself back together from the ground up, piece by piece by piece.  It took a long time, but slowly I built enough confidence to take myself in a new direction.  To be honest, I’m still figuring it out and pushing at the edges of what I know about myself, but taking the time to nurture my self-confidence and make it okay to go and follow what matters to me is the best thing I ever did.

So don’t you even think about making the same mistakes I did.  Screw what the doubters say.  Ignore the cynics.  Don’t pander to the masses.

Especially if those doubters, cynics and masses are all in your own head.

You’re the only one who knows what matters and you’re kidding yourself if you’re not listening to what you’ve known all along.  You’re the only one who can be confident and courageous enough to make a new decision.

You’re the perfect person to be who you’re supposed to be.

Ever felt like you were in the wrong place doing the wrong thing? Tell me about it – and what you did about it – in the comments.

Feb 16

Apples & Oranges - They Don't CompareYou know those dark moments you have?  Those moments when you’re not thinking at your best when you might look at someone more successful than you and think, “Great.  Just look at that.  They’re so far ahead of me, why am I even bothering?  I’ll never have what they have.”

Comparing yourself to someone more successful than you achieves nothing, and it may just destroy you. Here’s why.

  1. Your judgement and decision making becomes flawed.
    Comparing yourself to someone more successful is comparing 2 very different things.  Apples and oranges.  Bagpipes and banjos.  Pumas and pandas.  In comparing 2 very different things you start picking over the craziest of details and making them relevant.  And when the wrong things become relevant, your ability to make great decisions gets confused and compromised.  You start feeding a sense of lack instead of growth.
  2. You’re competing for the wrong reasons.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a competitive spirit, but you gotta pick the right event to compete in.  If you’re motivated by overtaking someone else the reasons for you being in the game become completely lost.  You’re competing for glory, not for meaning.
  3. You’ll start believing that you’re less than.
    Keep comparing yourself with others and you’ll establish all sorts of reasons why they’re better than you – or in other words, why you’re less than.  Keep occupying yourself with those reasons and it’s easy to start believing them, and before you know you’re thinking and behaving as though you’re less than in all parts of your life.
  4. You end up being type-cast.
    Once you’re in the habit of comparing yourself unfavourably to others, you end up casting yourself in the role of victim, the hard-done-by or the struggler.  Stepping into that role becomes a habit, something known, familiar and something you can trust. You brain triggers the pattern of behaviour that it knows the best, and so struggling becomes more important than using your true capability and value to make something extraordinary happen.
  5. You become bitter.
    When you’re giving fuel to the sense of lack, it’s easy to start resenting those who are successful rather than being pleased for them, celebrating with them or even learning from them.  Your world view dims and your spirit becomes diminished.  You end up resenting the success of others and even enjoying it when they screw up.  You become bitter that they have something you don’t.

I get that our society seems to instil competition and comparison into us from a young age, but you can’t blame society for the way you think any more than I can blame the aliens for sneaking into my house in the middle of the night and injecting me with a parasitic life-form that makes me crave gooey cheese and alt-folk.

Who’s the Boss of You?

You’re in charge of the way you think, and the way you think determines your experience and the level of meaningful success you achieve.  A couple of pointers for you.

  • Just because you’re where you are and they’re where they are doesn’t make them any better or you any worse. You’re still you and I happen to think you’re pretty brilliant.
  • I don’t have a competitive bone in my body when it comes to others, but I’m fiercely competitive with myself.  I know what I’m capable of and I know how I am when I’m performing at my best – that’s my yardstick.  Compete with yourself, not someone else.
  • There’s always someone with more.  You can’t be in front of the world all the time.  Nobody can.

So if you ever have those moments when you look at someone else and feel like stamping your foot and shouting “Damn it, I deserve better“, it’s okay. A lot of folks do.

But be sure to catch yourself and notice how your mind’s working, then replace that thought with, “Damn it, I can be better.”