Think of someone you know that you regard as successful. The qualities that make someone “successful” are difficult to illustrate but a common quality that all people who reach success have is confidence. Confidence is often regarded as something that is impossible to obtain. Something which is possessed by only an elite few who can crack its code. It appears as an aura or a state of being that you can feel when you enter a room. The confident individual participates in every undertaking as though they’ve done it all before. They speak better than you, their mental faculties are swifter than yours, you might even want to be them. A confident individual is indeed a force to be reckoned.
What if I told you that every confident person you’ve ever met was simply a very well-practiced liar? Or rather, what if I told you that confidence is a carefully manufactured mindset rather than something you’re born with? Technically both of these things are true. In order to be confident you must construct an idea in your mind.
While these ideas are not true at the time they will contribute to a sense of self-confidence which you can then exhibit proudly to others. The whole process begins by faking confidence. This starts on the personal level. In order to construct an outward appearance of confidence you need to first construct inner self-confidence. This is easier than you might imagine. According to Forbes, confidence is not based on your actual ability to achieve something but your belief that achievement is within your reach. For example, your ability to write an article for The Ath is not dictated by your ability to do it, but by a belief that you can do it. This is actually rooted in solid science; psychologists agree that building self-confidence is a choice.
How you choose to build it is very much up to you. For example, visualization is something that works well for a number of successful people, athletes in particular. Envision yourself speaking in front of a large crowd, or killing a debate, or any other thing you could want. The more you think about the details of the scenario the better off you’ll be. The feeling of applause, the lighting in the room, any small detail. Seeing yourself as a more confident person will help you become that person. For those of you that struggle with visualization, there is an easier way.
Begin by pretending you have the confidence you want. I’m not suggesting that you run head-first into the riskiest thing possible but perhaps start with speaking in one of your larger lectures. Any small act that makes you uncomfortable will serve to broaden what you know you’re capable of. After that it becomes an “If I did that, what’s stopping me from doing this?” scenario.
Forbes also suggests channeling your heroes. This is a personal favourite of mine. Think of the mannerisms of someone who really speaks to you and use that energy in your daily life. If you’re someone who enjoys film, there are a plethora of different actors in different roles that you can choose from. Don’t take that one too seriously – I have yet to see any scenario where channeling Al Pacino in Scarface has any type of positive results. However, a measured dose of Barry Pepper in Casino Jack does nicely. This particular technique is as malleable as you need it to be which makes it perfect for those of you who are less comfortable putting yourselves out there.
We’ll conclude with a technique of my own invention. I’ve coined it the “fuck it” factor. This technique is entirely risk based and it will result in some very uncomfortable situations for you, but as we’ve learned, confidence expands at the same rate as your discomfort. This technique could not be simpler. If you see something even remotely risky that you’re not sure you can do just utter the phrase “fuck it” and have a go at it. This technique for me is confidence building and fun all at the same time. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to do anything, the best way to find out is to go do it.
All of these techniques would not be complete without a discussion on what a confident person looks like. When we’re talking about confidence looking good is feeling good. Take care of yourself, and at a minimum, try not to look like you’re just rolled out of bed.
If you implement one of these techniques I’m confident that you’ll see favourable results. In the words of Mark Twain, “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”
Christopher Vanderburgh is a fifth-year (Honours) Politics major and the Features Editor of The Athenaeum.