Confidence. What is it? How do we get it?
Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 Hours Rule and that it takes around that amount of time until you become an expert at what you do. Just by putting in the hours, you will naturally become more confident because you’ve been doing it.
Another social researcher, Amy Cudahy, talks about the science behind “faking it until you make it.” Her research shows that if we allow ourselves to fake our way into things we’re not entirely sure about (and who ever is?) then just by that act alone, we can generate amazing accomplishments in our lives.
I’ve lectured on and practice both principles. They both work.
But what if there’s a sort of in between way of generating results that perhaps allows us to take the quantum leap? It builds on putting in the hours, but at the same time also asks us to fake when we need to.
Confidence. Even when we don’t feel it.
Confidence isn’t being pumped in artificially from the outside. To me it’s almost the contemporary equivalent of the late Latin word enthusiasmus, which comes from the Greek word enthusiasm, which is to be full of, or inspired by, the Divine. Source. Energy. Intelligence.
So we gain confidence by being filled and we get filled by doing. Because the more we do, the more we start to believe that we can do this thing called acting—or writing or singing or dancing. You get there by doing that thing, even if at times it feels like you don’t know what the heck you’re doing at all.
So confidence is born out of our lack of confidence when we first embark on something new. And different experiences and jobs also require different skills. So sometimes things you feel confident in won’t be required in other areas. So if you’re great at comedy, let’s say, and feel confident, you may need to borrow some of that belief to punt your way through drama or classical work or asking someone out on a date or calling that agent you met three months ago.
Confidence is also about making choices that serve us. We often walk around thinking thoughts that make us feel badly. And yet, to shift those thoughts into something that supports us isn’t hard to do. The energy requirement is the same, plus it feels better, but we often don’t do it. We’re lazy thinkers. We get accustomed to believe the things we’ve been taught to believe, even if those thoughts don’t serve us. And weirdly enough, also undermine our confidence!
The thoughts we think aren’t even our original thoughts. They’re thoughts someone else told us that we’ve taken on to become our truth, even when they’re lies. Walking around saying things to yourself like, “Life’s unfair,” or “I suck,” or “I’m stupid,” doesn’t help you. You’ve just been saying it because that’s what you’ve been taught.
So what if for a week, you just tried to mantra “I’m confident,” or “I am capable,” instead of your general go-to. Watch how it will make you feel, well…more confident!
Jessica Chastain in an interview with CBS News says, “I’m still navigating my way through this life. . . I’m not, like, super confident and feel like, ‘Oh, I own my place.’ I do feel a little bit like, well, who knows how long this is gonna last? But I wonder if that will always be the case with me.”
It’s not just her! It just goes to show you: Everyone is a work in progress figuring out confidence as they go along.
*Originally published via Backstage.