...discover it! That´s it all, just a mind shift, from learning to discovery and awareness. Here you will find no recipe on how to become someone else or fit some role model, this is just about being authentically and successfully yourself.
I will start by roughly introducing two psychological approaches that sometimes are presented as alternative, and combine them. No big academic stuff with tons of references and definitions, just basic concepts that can be immediately applied. This will give you the foundation to find your self-confidence and bring it to expression. Then we will get some homework and it will be up to you. No big investment in time, no endless mediation protocols or embarrassing exercises that push you "out of your comfort zone" where some magic should happen. it is the exact opposite: easy and comfortable; don´t believe me? You´ll let me know; but not after reading; after trying it out. Enjoy
First approach: "You do not cry because you are sad, you are sad because you cry"
She is one of the current stars of psychology, a new model of researcher, one of the great "products" of the TED era: Amy Cuddy. "Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions." (From TED.com). Basically when we assume a given posture this sends signals to our neurons that translate them into an emotional message both to others and to our selves. This concept is something actors have been using ever since and that was introduced into therapy by J. L. Moreno in the past century - psychodrama, which stands for action of the soul. For more about J. L. Moreno and psychodrama ask his wife, the wonderful Zerka. Need the modern version?Watch Amy´s great talk on TED.
First step: take note of which kind of position makes you feel comfortable, take that position and ... feel comfortable!
Now this already is really effective if you work on it, but the second approach is even more easy once you get used to it.
Second approach: focus on positives and success, because that´s where you are confident
I know it might sound obvious but in most cases it isn´t. Smart people are used to reflect on what they did wrong, but as time is limited, particularly nowadays and in business, they tend not to do the same with their success. But we do not need to quote research to see that we can learn a lot more from when we are successful. Think of asking your friend to not bring you a ham sandwich, this is giving him no clue on what you like and still too many options that might be a fail. It would be much more effective to tell your friend what kind of sandwich you like, and why. This second part is important, because although success is telling us that something worked in that particular situation (and this is already much more than knowing what did not work), we still need to make sure we know why exactly it worked. If you feel comfortable and confident because of how you are dressed or because of external conditions, or because of the relationship you have with your counterpart etc. it makes a difference. This leads us to your second step: awareness
Second step: make notes of when and why you feel confident.
Let me give you an example about public speaking. Some people, even highly exposed and well-known leaders are worried about public speaking. Lot of pressure and expectation on their performance, tons of videos of great public speakers from M. L. King to S. Jobs and to any given TED talk. Ok so they get a coach who teaches them how to stand, to talk, to use their voice, to present their content. A lot of things to focus on; to me this sounds like a lot of more pressure and as getting way out of my comfort zone. But there is some good news: I, and also they, and even you, can already stand, talk, use my voice, present my content... So why should I stress my self with things that are not stressful to me? May be I am worried about the audience? So here is what I have to do: I figure out when I was effective (not good or bad, effective) in speaking to some one, understand what gave me confidence and recreate the same conditions. was it eye contact? make eye contact; was it sense of nearness? create sense of nearness how you usually do (what ever that looks like). Make any thing that made you successful in past experience adapting it to muting circumstances. More people? Speak up (you can do this, as you did it in the past to reach out to your friend); More people? turn your head in order to make eye contact with all of them, no big deal. As soon as you consider speaking as a tool to make relationship and communicate and get out of the "performance" mode, you can step back into your comfort zone. (Sorry for being sketchy on public speaking, but this is not the topic today).
Now combine your notes and try to export your discoveries to new contexts and situations. That´s it; you do not leave your comfort zone as your comfort zone is within you and not depending on circumstances.
That´s how the magic happens, within your comfort and confidence zone!
Hope this post will inspire you and help you get rid of useless expectations and self-limitations. If I was not effective in the writing and you need me to be more explicit or precise about the concepts I introduced, please let me know and I´ll work on it.
Thank you for your feedback, Paolo