There was an article written recently by Emotional Intelligence 2.0 co-author Travis Bradberry called ’10 Things Confident People Don’t Do’ posted to Entrepreneur.com. I found it to be interesting and after my first read-through of it belived that what it was missing for me, was explaining to people the ‘how.’ It’s easy enough to point out what’s wrong, or list out the traits that “the right people” don’t have, but there was nothing here to tell folks, okay, a confident person doesn’t do this…and if you do, here are some suggestions for how to change your ways.
So I took it upon myself to write that content…and here it is. First, read his article located here <insert link>, and then proceed.
10 Things Confident People Don’t Do (and how to change your ways if you do any of them)
Travis’ #1: They don’t make excuses.
Christine’s How To: Travis’ whole point here is that a confident person’s confidence doesn’t come from other people or any other external means…it comes from within them. But what if you lack that confidence? What if, your whole life, people have told you that you weren’t good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or handsome enough? Or what if you aren’t willing to acknowledge that you are the one responsible for yourself…that nothing that happens is “someone else’s fault”?
There are ways to change yourself, and while enlightenment and mindset coaches may have better ways of explaining the how’s, I have a very simple one you can start with right now: Whenever you hear your voice (or a thought in your head) say, “It was his fault because he left the toilet seat up” or “if she hadn’t left the garage unlocked” or “the freeway was jammed, that’s why I was late” or “Joey didn’t get his part of the work done so I couldn’t do mine,” I want you to bring yourself to a FULL STOP. Just haul yourself up short as though you’re riding a horse and you yank back on the reins to make him stop walking.
If you’re a woman and your guy leaves the toilet seat up, CHECK BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN. Whose fault is it that you sat down with the seat up? Your man didn’t sit your butt down on the can, YOU sat it down.
Does anyone check that the windows and doors are shut and locked before everyone retires for the evening? Is that your wife’s job and for some reason she thought the garage door was locked when it wasn’t so a bunch of your tools were stolen? What if you’d kept your tools under lock and key? What if you had an alarm that would’ve sounded the moment someone opened the garage door? What if you’d asked your wife, “Honey, did you check all the locks?” It can be frustrating when things like this happen and you may want to blame everyone else in the world, but:
THE KEY IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR OWN PART IN WHATEVER HAS HAPPENED.
Because the fact that it’s impacting you? Means you have a part in whatever occurred. Period. No exceptions. No excuses.
Travis’ #2: They don’t quit.
Christine’s How To: Unless you’re talking about stopping bad habits, like quitting smoking or eating processed sugar, then I agree that a confident person does not “give up the first time something goes wrong.” Where I diverge from Travis’ belief that “confident people see challenges and fails as obstacles they need to overcome,” is fundamental to my advice on how to not be a quitter: Don’t see challenges and fails as obstacles…see them as lessons.
When your little baby Junior tried to stand up for the first time, he fell right back down again because his legs weren’t yet able to support him in an upright position. So he kept trying. And trying. And trying. And then suddenly he got this idea to hang on to the footstool next time he tried to stand. Guess what happened? Suddenly he could stand (while holding on to the footstool). His inability to stand on his own wasn’t something Junior saw as an obstacle to overcome…he saw it as a lesson: that standing on his own wasn’t working. And he adjusted accordingly, to great success.
If we had all given up trying to first roll over, then crawl and then walk and then run the very first time we tried it and failed, human beings would be laying around like dead logs and the human race would’ve died out before it’d gotten much past single-celled organism. If you try to launch your own business and it doesn’t make money, what you don’t do is quit because “it won’t work.” (My best friend calls that ‘taking all your marbles and going home.’) Instead, look at your product, your advertising strategy, your location (if it’s anything other than online), your niche market…look at everything, figure out why you think it didn’t work, adjust that thing and try again. Keep trying until you get it right. Period. You don’t need to climb mountains to succeed; you simply need to find another way to get through to your destination on the other side of the range.
Travis’ #3: They don’t wait for permission to act.
Christine’s How To: This one needs to be fleshed out a bit. There’s a huge difference between seeing your CEO needs help and jumping right in to help him, and acting in a way that could impact other people without first checking to be certain it’s okay to do so. Examples forthcoming…
I live in a house with two other adult females. One of us will sit and wait until everyone else is out of the kitchen before she’ll go in to make her meal or refill her water or whatever she wants to do in there. Another of us will just go in and do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, without any concern over who else is in there or what she’s doing. And the third of us will be meaning to go into the kitchen to do something for the past hour, but not want to get up…and then when she hears someone else go into the kitchen she thinks, ‘Oh, yeah, I wanted to go get my snack’ and then heads into the kitchen while the other person is in there actively doing something. And our kitchen is very small.
I’m the bullheaded one who just goes in when I want to do what I want as soon as I decide I want it. A lotta wants there! But what I’ve learned very slowly and painfully is that while it’s true that I don’t need to ask my roomies’ permission to go into the kitchen and fix my lunch, what is helpful to everyone is if I say, “Hey, I’m about to make my lunch, do you need to do anything in the kitchen before I get started?” It’s not asking for their permission to go in there and make my lunch, it’s ensuring that me doing so won’t negatively impact them. See the difference?
If my roomie drops her plates, cup and silverware on the floor, I’ll jump right in and help her pick them up. I won’t ask her first. But if I plan to bake a loaf of bread, thereby knowing I’ll be in the kitchen for an hour or so, it’s just plain courteous and thoughtful to ensure I’m not making my reticent roomie starve for an hour waiting for me to get out of her way so she can make her dinner. I think the best way to sum this one up is: You don’t have to wait for permission to help someone. Just make sure whatever you’re about to do isn’t going to somehow impede or be bad for them.
Travis’ #4: They don’t seek attention.
Christine’s How To: The bottom line of Travis’ fourth point is that confident people “draw their self-worth from within,” and therefore don’t try to say, “Yep, that was me, I did that, aren’t I awesome?” What I don’t like about the inference here is that it’s bad to want recognition for a job well done. I don’t believe it is. I do, however, believe that you should acknowledge anyone and everyone who helped you achieve the success.
For people who don’t have self-worth because of abusive childhoods, constant negativity in their lives or repeated failures, you can’t just flip a switch and say, stop hogging all the attention just because you succeeded. Guess what? That promotion your coworker got? It might be the first positive thing that’s happened to her in her entire adult life. She deserves recognition and congratulations, and if she smiles and accepts it that isn’t a bad thing. Now, if she didn’t do it alone and neglects to thank the other ten people that helped her get there, then there’s a problem, yes.
My point is this: simply allowing yourself to receive accolades for something you worked hard to achieve does not mean that you are not a confident person. I’m ridiculously confident – some would say overly so. But if I bust my ass eighteen hours a day for two months solid to start up a new business and it does six figures in its first month, then you bet your bippy I’m going to want someone to acknowledge that! I will, of course, then go on to thank those who helped it succeed. But if, as a result, someone points to me and says, “You don’t have any self-worth” then those who know me would laugh them right off the planet. (I have a little too much of that sometimes!)
So no…seeking attention does not, in my opinion, mean you have no self-worth. People who crave approval and praise, or have no self-worth, have real, valid reasons for that. They may be confident in some areas and not confident in others. Blanket statements do not work where the human psyche is concerned. What can you do if you feel you’re an attention-seeker? Make sure you’re a) not annoying people with it, and b) giving credit where credit is due.
Travis’ #5: They don’t need constant praise.
Christine’s How To: I will admit that in the past I have been easily annoyed by people wanting to forever be told they’re doing a good job. But you know what? If someone is doing a good job, then they deserve to be told they are! And once again, if someone’s that desperate for approval, it always means there’s something sad behind-the-scenes in their past or present that you’re not aware of. Rather than labeling them as underconfident or narcissistic, as Travis does, turn things around and be compassionate.
No, confident people don’t need the approval of others to call themselves successful. And yes, as Travis says, there are always going to be critics out there no matter what. But to say “Confident people also know that the kind of confidence that’s dependent on praise from other people isn’t really confidence at all; it’s narcissism” is, I’m sorry, a complete falsehood. If a person’s confidence is directly proportional to how much praise and/or attention they receive from others, they’re suffering from an emotional and/or psychological problem or deficiency that is clearly not narcissism. Let’s look at this more closely:
excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.
synonyms: vanity, self-love, self-admiration, self-absorption, self-obsession, conceit, self-centeredness, self-regard, egotism, egoism
extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.
The only part of any of that I can equate to what Travis wrote is “a craving for admiration.” But to say that a person whose confidence is dependent on praise is a narcissist is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. One of the things human beings are often not very good at – and I have been guilty of this until very, very recently – is feeling compassion for others rather than slapping them with labels that make us feel better about not being compassionate.
I have a great example in someone that I have known my entire life.
This woman was raised in a physically, emotionally, verbally and psychologically abusive home by a father who let the mentally ill stepmother get away with murder (almost literally on several occasions). As a child, nothing this person ever did was right even if it was the thing she’d been told to do. She grew up thinking she wasn’t good enough for anything; that her natural talents wouldn’t get her anywhere or weren’t as good as others were telling her. She agreed to marry someone because she truly didn’t think anyone else would ever ask for her hand in marriage, so low was her opinion of herself, her self-esteem and her confidence. She was extremely intelligent with a near-genius IQ, had a beautiful singing voice and an amazing ability to write.
But zero confidence. As a result, this woman didn’t go anywhere near what her true potential was until well after she was forty years of age. It was only via the praise of other people – which was such an uncomfortable thing for her that she couldn’t even graciously accept it when offered – that she finally began to believe in herself. She needed to be praised for what she did well in order to have an entire lifetime of mistreatment reversed enough that she could learn how to become confident in her abilities and, ultimately, herself.
So you tell me: does that woman fit the definition of a narcissist? No, I don’t think so either. And I know she’s not. How?
I must therefore say that Travis’ #5 is way off base. Blanket statements often are.
If you do find that you are a person who needs praise from other people: first off, I feel you. I get you. And second, if you are only actively seeking constant praise because you didn’t get it as a kid, it’s nothing you can’t fix, and I am living proof. In fact, I’m putting together a course that will teach you step by step precisely how I did everything from defeating Overwhelm to solving internal issues just like the one we’re talking about here. So my How To for you on this is, actually, to sign up for my mailing list. Not for me to sell you something, but because I know what this is about, and I know how to help you defeat what’s making you not confident.
I’ll hit up the last five things from the original article in my next post, so keep your eyes and ears open! In the meantime, what are your thoughts on what I’ve discussed here? Leave me a comment below!