By Coach KB
Walk into most conventional “big box” gyms and you can almost smell it… It gets stronger the deeper into the gym you go. You can even smell it on the “cardio-deck.” The smell gets even worse if there are mirrors. It’s a putrid smell. It smells like braggadocio, like bravado, like brashness, and often like Axe Body Spray.
Growing up I was always a weird mix of confident and insecure. I was confident in knowing I was just as able as the boys were to run and jump and hit “skimmers” in wallball (I still remember the day I beat Steve Ziminski at recess in 3rd grade!). But as time went on, insecurities crept up as they do in everyone’s lives - insecurities related to body image, intelligence, and ambitions. Insecurity can be crippling. It stops us from doing fun things like playing on the beach and dancing our hearts out. It stops us from achieving great things because we fear our ideas aren’t smart or noteworthy. Insecurity is the WORST!
I had a privileged childhood that allowed me to play sports year-round, a known way to battle insecurity and instill confidence. I also had the opportunity to participate in clubs in school such as Natural Helpers and Leadership which taught students strategies for building confidence and battling insecurities. I then had the opportunity as a middle- and high-school teacher to teach those very same courses to students in the same situation I was in. This does not mean that I am 100% confident 100% of the time - lots of times I was teaching lessons to students that I still needed to learn myself!
Suffice it to say, though, over my lifetime as a student, an athlete, a teacher, and a coach I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to develop confidence and conquer insecurities. It is one of the main reasons Melissa and I opened POINT. We wanted to create a healthy environment free of the Axe Body Spray-Attitude of cockiness. We want to focus on using strength as a way to build confidence instead of demeaning messaging that keeps people off the beach until they have the “right” body. When you believe your mind and your body are capable your insecurities diminish.
That said, there are many ways to be confident. Some people say they are confident but really they are just cocky. How do you tell the difference? How can you begin to embody confidence in your daily actions until you just embody confidence in your being? Here are a few ideas about confidence I have learned over the years that I want to share with you.
- Confidence is not something that is directed at others. You can’t be confident AT someone. Confidence is a natural expression of self-regard and/or ability. If you have to work to convince someone of either of these things, that is not confidence. Confidence is subtle and quiet.
- Confident people are not afraid to be wrong. They might take a stand on something but, if they are proven wrong, they graciously change their stance. Confidence is knowing that what is right is better than being right.
- Confident people listen to what other people have to say way more often than they share what they think. They ask open-ended questions to provide opportunities for the speaker to be thoughtful and introspective, but also to learn more. Confidence is about knowing a lot, but also knowing that there is infinitely more to learn about everything and that listening is one of the best ways to keep learning.
- Confident people are secure enough to ask for help. It is not a weakness to not know everything. We all have areas of expertise and learning from others is a way to boost others’ confidence as well as your own since you will now be more proficient in whatever you just learned.
- Confident people pass off the credit to others. While it is nice to be recognized, true confidence is knowing that the same amount was achieved whether it was recognized or not. Their internal pride is enough credit so they let others shine in order that they may also develop confidence.
- Confident people find good qualities in everyone and focus on those. It is a sign of insecurity to put others down as a way to make yourself look better. Instead, confident people point out good qualities in others and strive to embody those.
- Confident people are not afraid to look silly. Sometimes this is literally in-the-live: would you rather watch an insecure person meekly whisper a tune at karaoke or a confident person belt out the song not caring if all the notes and words are right? Sometimes this is in-story: admitting times you screwed up and made mistakes. People love sincerity and honesty. Confident people are genuine and unpretentious and know that it’s way better to have people laugh with you than at you.
- Confident people do not need 10,000 friends on Facebook. They earn trust and respect of the few people in life that matter. Then when you need people to stand behind you, you’ll have a strong group of a few committed people rather than a wishy-washy mass of thousands who may or may not have something better to do that day.
- Truly confident people go out on a limb for things. Insecure people wait for opportunities to be offered to them but confident people create opportunities. They know that if they want something they are not afraid to put themselves out there despite the possibility for rejection.
Sometimes you have to fake-it-’til-you-make-it. Most confidence is overcome with a lot of positive self-talk. No one will ever eliminate 100% of their insecurities; they are what keep us striving to be better! But being happy with ourselves is always better than the alternative, so try on some of these qualities I listed and see how they feel. It will be sticky at first, but over time you will start to embody the traits and become a more confident person who does not smell like Axe Body Spray.