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Be Confident In A Way Most People Don’t Know

Be Confident In A Way Most People Don’t Know

Last week the world was shocked and saddened by the suicide of Robin Williams. Since then the social media outlets have been blowing up with posts with people expressing their sadness and sharing some of his moments that are meaningful to them. What has also received a great deal of attention is the topic of suicide.

Though I’ve been studying people for 13 years, suicide is something I know very little about; so in no way, shape, or form am I trying share expertise on the subject. I can empathize a bit. I have a very Expressive Style and that means I can be very emotional and very assertive. This Style also comes with a roller coaster of attitudes and emotions that present great opportunities, but if left unmanaged, can create some real challenges. July of 2004 was probably the most challenging month of my life. I lived three hours from family and friends, my girlfriend and I broke up, and I got hustled by a roommate and was broke. Was I depressed?  I can’t say for sure. Was I suicidal? I don’t believe so, however I remember sitting in my apartment feeling alone and ashamed, and thinking to myself “I can totally get why people kill themselves, because this sucks.”

There are people out there who unfortunately experience legitimate depression and then there is a whole other group of people who find themselves in mental and/or emotional funks they can’t shake. The more I studied people the more I tried to zone in on what motivates them. I quickly realized that people can have all the goals, potential, and talent in the world, but if they don’t have confidence, they will likely never have the life they want to have. I began getting very curious about the concept of confidence and I started asking the question “If people aren’t confident, what are they?” The answer I’ve settled on is: Insecure. I define insecurity as any thought or feeling we have that is negative, either toward ourselves or the world around us. This could be stress, worry, fear, anxiety, regret, anger, jealousy, sadness, shame and the list goes on and on. In my opinion, insecurity is a disease, but instead of killing us, it just makes our lives suck until we die.

I look at confidence and insecurity as two different roads.

The Confident Road

The confident road is smooth and efficient. It’s a beautiful day and the driving conditions are perfect. The cruise control is set, windows are down, and your favorite song is on the radio. Your passengers are great company and everyone else you encounter is friendly. You consistently reach your destinations with no problems because the directions and signs are clear. You arrive feeling great without a worry in the world.

The Insecure Road

The insecure road is not smooth and efficient. There are times when the days are beautiful and conditions are perfect, but they can quickly and violently change leaving you looking for a ditch or an overpass for protection. The road is windy and bumpy, changes directions frequently, and the signs are not always clear or accurate. The people you encounter are not always friendly or helpful and your passengers are “backseat drivers” always criticizing you and making you second guess where you are going. The ride can be very uncomfortable and if you are lucky enough to reach your destination, you do so feeling confused, anxious, stressed, and worn down.

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Which road do you want to be on?

In his Hierarchy of Needs, Abraham Maslow says that insecurity may hold us back from developing healthy relationships, keep us from developing the self-esteem needed to achieve our goals and prevent us from realizing our passion and potential in the world.

When you start to understand confidence and insecurity, you start to realize how big of an issue this really is. Millions and millions of people are not living the lives they want to live because they are insecure. That is a tragedy!

I think so many people experience insecurity for three reasons:

We Are Confused

We get hammered with thousands and thousands of messages every single day, most of which don’t have our best interest in mind. Simply, we are not focused on the right things.

We Aren’t Taught Self-Respect

We are taught to respect, be good to, and take care of everyone else, but how many of you were taught to respect, be good to, and take care of yourself? We aren’t proactively taught this, so we don’t know how to. We aren’t taught what self-respect means. We aren’t taught to set healthy boundaries that we must project. We aren’t taught to think about what kind of life we deserve? We are taught to put everybody else first and that thinking about ourselves is selfish.

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We Lack Self-Awareness and Self-Management

You can’t manage what you aren’t aware of and because we aren’t taught to think about our self, we aren’t aware of our self. I train leaders all over the country and without any hesitation I have no problem telling them that a lack of self-management will be the difference between them being a great leader or a bad memory.  Personally, I realize that I am more sensitive and insecure when I don’t get enough sleep and I don’t exercise on a regular basis. Because I have self-awareness, when I feel negativity I am quick to take a step back and adjust my world accordingly to get back on track. You must get to know yourself so you can manage yourself.

To close, I want to remind you of a few concepts you must become familiar with to gain the confidence you need to live the life you want to live.

Self-Awareness

Above anything else, Self-Awareness might be the most important skill you can learn. Google defines Self-Awareness as:“conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.” I define it as knowing who you are and where you are going. What is important and meaningful to you? What excites you about the world? What do you expect of yourself and the world around you? What do you really want to do? What do you want your life to look like? What do you need to accomplish to fulfill your vision? What is your plan to accomplish your goals and vision?

When you know who you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there, you eliminate a lot of the uncertainty and confusion that leave people feeling insecure.

Self-Awareness is knowing who you are, where you are going, and having a plan to get there. There is no uncertainty or confusion because your vision, plan, and how you organize your life is based on your values, passions, and things that are meaningful to you. You will never find any greater motivation than this to help you keep thriving forward!

Self-Respect & Self-Worth

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? When you think about your life and what you want out of it, what do you feel? Are you motivated or discouraged?

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While growing up it is beaten in to our heads how important it is that we have respect for people and things and the better we can do this the easier our life will be. However, I don’t remember at any point in my life anyone teaching me that the first person I needed to respect was myself. Yes, I was probably more insecure than the average kid, but I was so busy kissing everyone else’s behind and seeking approval and validation that I never thought about what I deserved. As a result I was very amiable with the world around me. Most of the time I just went with the flow and I was never too assertive.  If I felt what I was going to say or do was going to hurt or upset someone, I didn’t say it even when I was in the right or at a disadvantage. I didn’t understand self-respect and self-worth. You must.

Understanding self-respect and self-worth is your best defense against the world around you. They create much needed boundaries that will keep things out of your life that will keep you surviving rather than thriving. They protect your self-esteem, confidence, and attitude. People who understand self-respect and self-worth are more confident and they are less likely to tolerate being bullied by people or the world around them.

Self-Confidence

Google defines self-confidence as “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment”You must trust and believe in your abilities! Self-Confidence is the opposite of insecurity. When you are confident, you are not insecure and when you are insecure, you aren’t confident.

What is confidence? A 2009 Psychology Today article titled The Key to Confidence says:

“Confidence is our greatest personal resource. With it, we can face any situation knowing we can handle it. Without it, we are destined to suffer.”

A 2013 article on HuffingtonPost.com titled What is Confidence, Really? states:

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“Owning it. When you’re “owning it,” it means that you’re totally and completely at peace with who you are in every moment, interaction and experience. You make no apologies for being awkward, nervous, excited, loud, soft spoken or other… you’re just you. You radiate charismatic energy whether or not you have an extroverted personality because you are genuinely content with yourself and your present experience.”

In an AskMen.com article titled What Does Confidence Mean?, they say:

“Confidence is an attitude, a demeanor of coolness, a “swagger,” if you will. Confidence is not something that you can wear like a T-shirt or a gold watch, but it is something that can be enhanced by putting on a fresh, crisp new item of clothing or by putting a little extra effort into your physical appearance. It’s a certain pep in your step. A way of walking. A contagious charisma.”

A PowertoChange.com article titled You Can Be More Confident talks about confident women:

“There are few things more beautiful on a person than confidence. Women who wear it radiate strength, passion and conviction. It contributes more to a look than a designer label or the perfect diamond. When a woman knows who she is, why she is and what she’s supposed to do, she may be dressed in thrift store specials and be absolutely gorgeous.
A confident woman is not afraid to be herself. Plain and simple and beautiful, or flamboyant and fabulous. The key is: she knows who she is. She understands her purpose, and her gifts. She knows that there are certain things only she can contribute to this world, at this time, in this place.
She knows her style. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer zebra stripes and pink fur, or to be cloaked in grays and subtle greens. Whether you like volleyball or Victorian teas. Shopping or hiking. Or all of the above. What is most important is to be you.”

I want you to be on the confident road. I want you to have unshakable self-awareness, self-respect, self-worth, and self-confidence.

You must put the focus on your self. That doesn’t mean be selfish or act like a narcissist. The reality is, if you don’t look out for you, no one else will. If you are having trouble managing and concurring your insecurities, admit them, and get help. Talk to friends, seek out a mentor, or visit a counselor.  Little insecurities can easy morph into big ones and you don’t want that. You don’t deserve that!

Find and embrace the confident you!

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

“Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

Creativity also emphasizes values.

“The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

1. Cultivate Focus

In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

How to cultivate focus?

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Take a 20 Minute Walk

Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

2. Build a Structure

When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

How to build a structure?

Create a Morning Routine

Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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3. Find Motivation

There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

How to find motivation?

Connect to Your “Why”

Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

How to become an expert?

Make a Mastery Training Plan

Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

3. Review your progress

Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

5. Create a Conducive Environment

A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

“a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

How to create a conducive environment?

Add or Subtract Stimuli

Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

The Bottom Line

Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

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