What do you know about the link between confidence and success? Do you believe there is one? Do you think confidence leads to success? Or, do you think success builds confidence? It seems like everyone who studies the topic agrees – there is an association between confidence and success. What they can’t agree on, is why, or which one causes the other. Luckily for all of us, it doesn’t even matter! Just knowing that there is an association, a link, is totally good enough for me. And here’s why…
The fact that confidence and success are linked, means that increasing success will boost confidence. That’s cool, right? And, it also means that bosting confidence will increase success. That’s even cooler, right? Yes!! Wait, why is that cool? It’s cool, because it’s powerful! It’s powerful, because there are a so many things that we can do, starting at this very moment, to boost our confidence. And, with realizing this close association, any or all of those same things will also make us more successful! At the end of the day, isn’t that what we really want? To be successful at the things we do, in all aspects of our lives. I know for myself, I want to be a successful parent, husband, friend, helper, provider, and everything else. If bosting my self-confidence will help me with any, or all, of that, I’m in!
So, I could really go anywhere from here now because there are so many things we can do to boost our self-confidence. We can be prepared for conversations and questions, we can surround ourselves with people we know, like, and love, we can wear our favorite clothes, we can stand up tall with good posture, do things we know we are good at, and help others, just to name a few. Amy Cuddy explains that we can even do certain poses and exercises that produce chemicals in our brains that will boost our self-confidence! I’m not going to get into that specifically here, but I highly recommend that you check it out! (link below)
What I mostly want to talk about today is how we respond to others. Specifically, how we respond to what others say, what they do, how they act, and most importantly how that makes us feel. You see, we really don’t have any control over those things. The only thing we do have control over is how we choose to respond to those things that others do and say, and that does have a tremendous impact on our lives.
Just to be crystal clear here, I’m not talking about peer pressure, or letting others influence or push us around. I’m fairly certain that we are all well beyond that by now. We already know not to pay attention to the haters out there, and not to judge ourselves based on what others do say and accomplish for themselves. I want to talk about every day interactions and situations, and how we can either boost or deflate ourselves, and our own self-confidence, in the way we choose to receive, interpret, and respond to all of these experiences in our lives.
For example, if I’m walking down the street in a new t-shirt, and some random person that I don’t know looks at me and says “Nice shirt”, at that exact moment I’m presented with an opportunity. I now get to choose how I receive that comment. I can choose to smile, puff my chest up a little, and say “thanks”, and continue walking down the street feeling good about myself, and my new gear. Or, I can look back at the person and say to myself, what did they mean by that? Are they being sarcastic? Is this a bad shirt? Does it not fit me well? Is it too silly? Do people think this shirt is corny? Writing this out, it sounds a bit absurd, but is it? I’m willing to bet that you know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe not in the context of a new shirt, but maybe with a new hair cut, a new pair of glasses, or your new self after losing some weight. People say things, and they are not always appropriate, but we do always have the opportunity to choose how we receive their messages.
Let’s go back to the new t-shirt example, let’s say it was a slogan t-shirt that said “powered by plants”. I’m trying to use an example that could be slightly controversial. On one side, as many of you know, I personally have a new lease on life thanks to adopting a nutrient-rich plant-based diet. On the other hand, I know there are a lot of people in the world that don’t know everything that I do about plants, and many of them think that it’s not possible to be healthy, fit, and strong without eating meat. It’s unfortunate, but true. Anyway, if I’m walking down some random street in a t-shirt that says “powered by plants”, and random person that I don’t know says “nice shirt”. How does that make me feel? Is that an easy question to answer? Or, does it depend???
Would you need more information to answer that question? Why? What else would you like to know? Was the person smiling? Were they laughing? Did they make eye contact when they said it? Did they chuckle to their friends after? What were they wearing? The could be hints and clues to their intentions in all of that, but how much time and energy should I put into trying to figure out how it makes me feel? Seriously, how much investigative work should I do, before I know if I should let that comment make me feel good, or bad? How long should I let the mental debate go on, before deciding if the random comment made by this person who I do not know, and may never see again, will boost my self-confidence, or deflate it? Keeping in mind, that boosting my self-confidence will, by extension, help me to become more successful. And at the same time, letting it deflate my self-confidence will also, by extension, make me less successful? Should I spend 5 minutes on it? One minute? Even one second? No way!!
I suggest that you spend exactly zero seconds engaging in that internal debate, and instead just take it as a compliment, puff up your chest a little, and go about your day feeling that much better about yourself! You deserve to take it as a compliment, always, every single time, because that is what serves YOU best! Plain and simple, cut and dry. Choose to believe whatever serves you best. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what that person intended with their comment. No matter what kind of day they are having, or who they, themselves, are trying to impress. Deflating yourself in a situation like this, is bad for you, and really doesn’t even matter to anyone else, so don’t do it!
What serves me best? Say it to yourself now. What serves me best? This has actually become a mantra for me, and I use it as a constant reminder to choose to think and believe the things that will help me in life. It’s also a reminder for me to not give any thought or debate to ideas that work against me. It’s not easy, and I do find myself falling into the trap sometimes, but I also try really hard not to let it happen, and I’m actually getting much better at it! And, I think it’s making me a happier and more successful person.
Let’s look at one more example, because some of you may care about becoming healthier, and I would personally love to help you with that. My catalyst for change was being denied a 20-year life insurance policy. When I was denied, I had a choice. What am I going to tell myself about this? How would it serve me to say that the insurance company is nuts, they don’t know what they are talking about, they are being too conservative, they are crazy, there is nothing wrong with me, ripping up the letter and throwing it in the trash? It certainly wouldn’t have helped me to improve my life. On the other hand, I chose, accidentally and unknowingly at the time, to respond in a way that served me best. I took what they insurance company wrote to me as a literal death sentence, and used that as a mountain of motivation to change my life. As a result, I am happier, healthier, more confident, and much more successful than I ever previously thought I would be.
So, with this, I urge you to please think about doing two things for yourself. When you begin to feel doubt, or stress, simply ask yourself “How does this serve me?”, and then act accordingly. If you have a chance to get boosted or deflated, please get boosted! If you have a chance to interpret something as a compliment or criticism, PLEASE take it as a compliment. And, if you find yourself slipping into investigative mode, trying to figure out what someone meant by something, or guessing if they were trying to help or hurt you, please cut that short! It’s not worth your time, and it won’t make a difference to them either way. The world could use more kindness, positivity, and compassion, and in choosing to accept things positively, will help to spread that too. Even on the rare occasion that someone was trying to give you a hard time, or get you riled up.
You see, all of this works, because the reality of experience is actually very brief. Eckhart Tolle, and many others do a very good job of explaining this very well (links below). But basically, all that is real is the present moment. The past no longer exists, and we are not sure what the future will bring. We only have our perception, or memories, of what happened, and our expectation, or hopes, for what may come in the future. Those memories, perceptions, and hopes only exist in our heads, and since it’s in there, we have the power to choose them in ways that will either serve us, or work against us. I sincerely hope that you always choose to serve yourself.
Dr. Laurie Marbas and I discussed this and much more on her How To Health Podcast. Laurie really had a lot to add on this, especially with keeping it practical and useful, and if you want to dig a little deeper I highly recommend that you check it out. You can watch or listen at the links below.