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Why Faking It ‘Til You Make It Is Terrible Advice

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fake it

Six months ago a journalist asked me for some tips for an article about self-confidence she was writing for Monster.com. I sent her some nuggets of wisdom that I thought were pretty good, and she recently emailed me with the link to the finished article.

I clicked the link, and my heart dropped when I saw the title of the piece: “This is one emotion that you should fake”.

First, confidence is not an emotion. Second, it’s not something you should fake.

Let me break that down for you.

Confidence is not an emotion

Emotions are things that bubble up in response to circumstances. Things like fear, happiness, sorrow. Confidence not something that’s driven by events. It’s the ability to make a meaningful choice in response to events.

It’s your capacity for self-trust. A foundation. A bedrock. A core of knowing you’re already enough.

Confidence is not something you should fake

What does “faking it” mean?

It means that you pretend to be something you’re not. It means making assumptions about who you need to be to move forward. It means ignoring who you are and playing the role of someone else.

It’s bullshit. Dangerous bullshit.

The research that people refer to when they say that faking confidence makes you feel confident, is based on 2 fundamental misunderstandings.

  1. They say that adopting so called “power postures” will make you feel more confident. These postures increase testosterone and swell short-term feelings of outer confidence, making you more likely to bluff and bluster your way through to make other people think you’re confident. That’s not confidence; it’s arrogance.
  2. Confidence is not the absence of fear, it’s the ability to respond to fear in a meaningful way. Feeling afraid doesn’t mean you’re not confident, in fact, you can be shaking in your boots in the face of a challenge and still have confidence.

Worst of all, by choosing to fake confidence you’re reinforcing the belief that you don’t have something that other people do.

You’re telling yourself, “Face it, you’re not good enough to get through this in one piece, so you’d better pretend to have your shit together and be good enough, and then maybe you won’t get shamed.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is incredibly damaging to your self-confidence.

Don’t respond to a challenge by pretending to be good enough. Don’t respond to it by thinking that you you shouldn’t be afraid. Don’t respond to it by thinking that you need to make up for something you lack.

Respond by choosing something that matters more than fear.

The Extinction of Over-Confidence

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The Extinction of Over-Confidence
Sometimes you see someone and think they’re over-confident.

They’ll be loud, brash and make it all about them.

They’ll make assumptions, believe they’re right and expect everyone else to think the same way.

And sometimes, especially when it makes you feel bad, it’s what you call someone who seems to have more confidence than you.

This so-called “over-confidence” happens when someone believes they’re better than others, when they believe they’re right no-matter-what, or through repetitive actions and behaviours that become rote and don’t need any thought.

It’s spoken about by coaches, by journalists, by pundits, by business people, by athletes and by friends…

…but here’s the thing – over-confidence doesn’t exist

Over-confidence isn’t a glut or overspilling of self-confidence. It’s either arrogance or complacency.

That’s all it ever is.

Over-confidence has nothing to do with confidence.

You can never have a surfeit of confidence, because natural confidence fits you perfectly.

It’s not too cold and not too hot. It’s not too loud and not too quiet. It’s not too big and not too small.

It’s just right.

It’s built for you.

It’s made to fit you perfectly so that you have exactly what you need to feel whole.

Over-confidence is already extinct, because it’s always something else.

And ironically it’s the things that lurk under the label of over-confidence, that need real confidence to move through.

How to Stop Being Socially Awkward

How to Stop Being Socially Awkward
Clammy palms. A racing heart. A plunging in your stomach, or a sense of impending doom. The awkwardness that comes from standing in a room surrounded by the pressure to socialise makes a lot of people run and hide.

Hardly surprising. All those people ready to judge. All those eyes on you. All those people to impress.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to experience ease in social situations, just like you see others do.

Here’s how to stop being socially awkward.

Don’t make it about you

You stand there, your thoughts spinning and spiralling. How to get through it? What to say? How soon can you leave?

When fear strikes, it’s natural for your thoughts to turn inwards. But in social situations that just makes things worse. The solve is to focus on someone else, just one other person in the room. Have a question ready—a “Hey, how’s your day going?” works just great.

The point is to get out of your head by focusing on others. Be interested, not interesting.

Leave perfection behind

Standing there looking at everyone around you, it’s easy to feel pressure to perform. Gotta come across well. Gotta make a wonderful impression. Gotta say the perfect thing at the right time.

Wanting to be perfect will fuck you up faster than a horny bunny at a hot tub party during rabbit Spring Break.

It’s based on the thought “If I’m perfect, they won’t reject me”. But nobody’s perfect, and avoiding rejection is not only a horrible motivation, but is also out of your hands.

When the pressure you’re feeling is coming from the desire to be perfect, realise that you’ll make better connections by being imperfect.

Change what’s important

It’s possible that the wrong things are important to you.

For example, is it more important that someone else likes you, or that you like you? Is it more important that someone else feels comfortable around you, or that you’re comfortable around you? Is it more important that you fit in, or that you’re being who you already are?

You’ll never feel good enough when your thinking comes from things that might not be serving you well.

So notice what you’ve been making important, then shift them back onto the things that matter.

See where the energy is

Human beings are social animals, in as much as we’re hardwired to make connections. The differences come in how people prefer to do that. Some prefer large groups. Others prefer one to one.

Truth is, you can be an introvert or an extrovert and feel confident in how you engage and connect.

So if you feel more energised in smaller groups, go towards that. If you feel more open having one person next to you who you know, do that. Or if you make connections better over a shared activity, do that instead of a stiff networking event. Figure out the kinds of social engagements that make you feel energised and which don’t. Then go towards the energy. You don’t have to be someone you’re not.

It’s not going to kill you

There’s that moment, when it feels like the world is closing in around you and you can’t make it through. But unless you’re attending a meeting for Cannibals Anonymous, the risk of actual bodily death in social situations is kinda tiny.

Notice when you’re investing the rest of your life in this one, brief moment, and take a step back. You’ve made it this far. You’re not going to die. You’re going to be fine.

Even if it’s uncomfortable, or feels weird, that’s okay. Make peace with that and laugh with that, safe in the knowledge that you can deal with whatever happens.

Let’s not forget…

Now, while those strategies can all be employed to help you out, there’s one notion that soars above the others.

Have fun.

Social situations are supposed to be fun, right? So if you can let go of the rules and your expectations and just have fun in the moment you find yourself in, you’ve nailed it.

5 Massive Signs You’re An Arrogant Ass-Hat

The arrogant selfportrait

Confidence is a Good Thing.

You can quote me on that. Maybe write it down on a slip of paper and bring it out when you hear someone say that confidence is a Bad Thing. “Aha!” you can shout, “look, I have proof on this piece of paper right here in my hand that’s it’s not a Bad Thing. Came from this Steve guy. English dude.”

But arrogance? Arrogance (sometimes mistakenly called over-confidence) is another kettle of fish entirely. So much so that it isn’t even a kettle and doesn’t have any fish in it.

Here are 5 signs that you’re an arrogant ass-hat.

1. Nobody else gets a word in

It’s not simply that you love to be the centre of attention. The hard truth is that you’re more interesting than the other people in the room and have more to say. Whether at a party or in a meeting, the stuff that other people say never really seems to hit the mark. It’s never quite astute enough, clever enough, insightful enough, funny enough or valuable enough, right? If you can add all that value and hit the mark every time, wouldn’t it be a waste, or a crime, not to?

Think of it as a public service. You’re speaking up and being interesting so others don’t have to.

2. You’re right. Period.

You know your way is the right way, you just know it. Everyone else wants to go round the houses, cover all the bases or do their due diligence. Others seem determined to go about things in a way that’s nowhere near as efficient and effective as it should be. So you state your case, let people know they’re wrong and even get into arguments because you know full well your way will get the best result.

If only they’d listen to you more of the time they’d get great results all of the time.

3. You can’t date just anybody

You can have your pick of partners, but if you dated the first guy or gal to come along not only would you be settling, but you’d be selling yourself short too. You’d be dooming the relationship to failure before it’s started.

No, you’ve got to be sure that your date—whoever the lucky soul is—is capable of keeping up with you (even if they can’t match you) as well as recognising what a catch you are.

Maybe you should hold auditions…

4. You can deliver the moon on a stick

You’re damn good. You really are. Other people are content to go for reasonable challenges or to push themselves just a little bit. You’re different. You’re better than that. If you need to deliver something in a week, you can likely deliver it in half the time or deliver twice as much. Double the fun.

It wouldn’t be right to limit yourself to a level of performance that you can far exceed; limits are for wimps. Don’t settle for what other people can do; you know that you can go further, stronger, longer and faster than them. Let the world know.

5. People don’t “get you”

You do and do and do, and still people never seem to grasp how good you are. Friends have come and gone, romantic dalliances seem to be short-lived and even colleagues and bosses criticise you for tiny things that have no bearing on the results you get. That’s okay though, you don’t need other people and it’s probably nothing more than a little bit of jealousy on their part.

The fact that other people don’t get you doesn’t mean that you need to lower your standards. Stay strong.

Disclaimer

I’m being facetious.

If you find yourself doing any one of these things then make sure you recognise it. If you find yourself doing all of them, then I have an emergency coaching session on standby with your name on it…

Just please…don’t be too full of ass-hatery to not to use it.

Fuck the 5 Year Plan

Fuck the 5 year plan
A lot of people have big plans. Maybe you’re one of them.

Carefully constructed with strategies, tactics, vision boards, mission statements and publicly declared goals for accountability, people put a lot of time and effort into long term plans.

You might think that I’d be right behind this kind of focus, and that I be grabbing my trumpet to fanfare all of this goal-setting and planning. I should be congratulating these people for their mature and responsible approach and for having a firm hand on their rudder.

But five year plans, are, I think, dumb. Here’s why.

Plans replace meaning

Details consume you, and planning often falls into the trap of being a replacement for meaningful action. Making a plan is a marvellous strategy for procrastination.

Life doesn’t go to plan

Life isn’t orderly. It’s more drunken dock-worker than pious nun, and it’s ready to tip the table and start a fight at the drop of a tidal fluctuation. People go insane trying to control the detail of life, and a plan is often a means to feel in control.

You grow by letting things go

Hearing what’s next in your life can be impossible when all you can hear is the rattle and hum from the plans you’ve made. It’s easy to miss an intriguing, hidden path when your eyes won’t move from the map you drew before you left home.

Hey, if you’re a believer in plan-making, then go for it. Do what works for you. Just don’t come to believe that if you don’t have a plan you’re doing something wrong.

Writer Joseph Campbell said, “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you”. So the most essential ingredient to any great plan is to have it be flexible enough to throw away if you need to.

You don’t need to a plan to explore.
You don’t need a plan to be joyful.
You don’t need a plan be yourself.
You don’t need a plan to belong.
You don’t need a plan to feel good enough.

Have a direction of travel. Know your values. Understand what you’re like at your best. Prioritise nourishment. These are some of the things you can add to your life to move it forwards. Other times it’s what you remove that allows your life to take shape.

Often, it’s by letting go that you get the best shot at the life you really want.

Which takes real, balls to the wall confidence.

To live without a hard and fast plan, to fly by the seat of your pants, to lean into uncertainty and trust yourself—isn’t that what this is all about?

You Can Never Disappoint Me

You Can Never Disappoint Me
Fuck up and I won’t think less of you.

It doesn’t matter if you find out you’ve been wrong or that you’ve missed something important.

I know you’re good enough, no matter what.

Being scared isn’t who you are. Screwing up isn’t what you do. Feeling stuck isn’t what you’re fated to.

I know you at your best and at your worst, and you’re greater than the sum of those parts.

You can’t disappoint me, because I see you.

And I wonder.

What would it be like if you had enough blind faith, that you could never disappoint yourself?

The Fool-Proof Guide to Building Totally Flawed Opinions

The Fool-Proof Guide to Building Totally Flawed Opinions
Everyone has an opinion these days.

He’s either a dick or exactly what we need. It’s either made up bullshit or what people need to hear. It’s either the best thing you’ll ever see or the biggest pile of horseshit ever. I’m either right, or I’m as wrong as nipple-tassles on a nun.

Forming an opinion often happens without you even knowing. A bit like growing a skin-tag or developing a love of Korean food.

If you want to guarantee that any opinion you form is a flawed as a Vegas hotel, here are some tips.

Only take input from your filter bubble

When you need to decide where you stand on a particular issue, the best thing to do is to check out Facebook. Sure enough, you’ll most likely see a whole bunch of people and opinions that support your hunch. Keep reading what you’ve already read and keep watching the news channels you’ve always watched—those guys know their stuff.

Your filter bubble surrounds you with people just like you; powered by algorithms smart enough to show you everything you already agree with.

Why go anywhere else?

Forget all about your values

Flawed opinions are best formed when there’s nothing to pin them to; nothing to anchor them. Hearsay, wishy-washy opinion pieces and the mood you wake up in are guaranteed to help you form opinions with spines made from damp-socks.

Figuring out what matters most to you (in yourself, in others and out there in the world) is hard. Nowhere in the rules does it say that your opinions need to be based on any kind of personal bedrock. In a world where opinions are cheap, why bother investing anything of yourself in yours?

Listen to whoever’s loudest

Whoever shouts the loudest probably has the most belief in what they’re saying, so it’s those guys you need to listen to more than anyone else.

Think about it. Why else would they be spouting forth so vociferously if they didn’t have a huge belief in what they were saying. Their volume signals their passion, so trust that they’ve done their homework and get in line.

Form an opinion based on your worst qualities

It’s a scary world out there. The war in Syria. The rise of ISIS. The widening wealth gap. The refugee crisis. No job security. Wall Street greed. Homegrown terrorism.

More than ever before, you need to protect yourself and fear for what’s coming. So as we try to scrape through this in one piece, any opinion you can form that’s based on fear and greed (or similar base qualities) is going to serve you best.

Don’t trouble yourself with facts

Facts are great. What’s even better, are points of view that hang out in the edgy suburb of Fact-town. They’re the uber-cool, sexy classmate to the bookish, still-a-virgin nerd that all facts are.

We’re all sick and tired of so-called “experts” spouting facts and statistics. What’s way more compelling is a strong point of view that you can really get behind.

In a world that’s vomiting alt-facts like a fat man with norovirus, who needs to back up an opinion with a dull fact when you can back it up with a compelling alt-fact instead?

You can do that stuff, or…

Do any or all of those things. Go right ahead.

Doing so may well turn you into a bigoted, hypocritical fucktrumpet, but don’t let me stop you. After all, this whole article is just my opinion, so go ahead and make up your own mind.

You’re entitled to form an opinion however you want. Just don’t expect anyone to have confidence in an opinion that has no foundation. Is an opinion that’s based on meaning and fact worth more than one that’s based on vapour and hearsay?

Yes, it most definitely fucking is.

Opinions are only cheap if there’s no meaningful investment in them, and there are far too many of those kicking around.

Opinions can be beautiful and powerful, but only if you build them out of things that have beauty and power. Things like honesty and value. Things like compassion and integrity. Things like love and curiosity.

We have a duty to form opinions that are fact-based and value-lead, and this, it seems, is one of our greatest challenges. To move from fear and greed fuelled opinions that keep us stuck and stumbling, towards opinions that elevate what it is to be human.

What part do you think you can play in that challenge?

Get A Kick Up The Ass This Weekend

Bucketlist Bootcamp
Sometimes, you need a kick up the ass to get you going.

And with 2017 stretching out ahead of you, it’s natural to want to get moving on something meaningful.

So this weekend (January 21st and 22nd), join me and others at the first ever Bucket List Bootcamp.

There’s going to be a huge amount of insight reaching and action taking, all guided by a darn decent band of speakers that I’m thrilled to be among.

I’m leading a session called “Practical Confidence for a Great Life“. During it, I’ll give you two key pieces of my confidence coaching method—the only two exercises that I insist everyone I work with completes. They’re that fundamental to real, natural confidence, and you can use them over and over again to respond to fear with the confidence you already have.

Get your tickets to the Bucket List Bootcamp right here. Tickets are going for $25, but that link is only for readers of confidence.coach and gives you a special 70% discount.

Join me, the other speakers, and participants from around the world, and let’s start something sweet and beautiful. Last call for tickets here – http://www.passionblueprint.com/bucketlistbootcamp?confidencecoach.

10 Top Tips for a Sweet and Beautiful Life

10 Top Tips for a Sweet and Beautiful Life
A sweet and beautiful life is not to be sniffed at or dismissed as some arbitrary, fluffy bullshit.

Just think of the opposite kind of life – bitter and ugly.

Yeah, me neither.

Here then, are 10 top tips to live a sweet and beautiful life.

Try compassion. It might just change your mind on things.

Make meaningful friends. And through your behaviour, let them know that they’re meaningful.

Give. Not because it makes you feel good or righteous, but because it’s how you get to express gratitude for what matters to you.

Become imperfect. You’re riddled with imperfection and there’s nothing you can do about it. So just embrace it already.

Do things that matter. Because if you’re not showing up like that in your life, just how are you spending your time?

Tell better stories. Because those old stories that make you feel not good enough aren’t good enough for you.

Dig under hate. Because hate sits on top of pain, and pain is an important vehicle for growth.

Dont sweat the practical stuff. There’s always a solve for the practical stuff in life (I’m a great believer in creating a third option), no matter how shitty or complex.

Create. You and the world become richer through the act of creating something of value.

Integrate. Because it’s by integrating your experience, rather than separating or compartmentalising, that you get to be whole.

Short and to the point, I hope.

Because I don’t want to keep you from getting involved in your own life.

Just holler if I can help.

I’m always around.

Towards the Sweet & Beautiful in 2017

Towards the Sweet & Beautiful
In 2016, I…

  • Wrote 30 articles, down from 42 in 2015
  • Wrote 11 guest articles across Huffington Post, The Muse and Men’s Fitness
  • Coached nearly double the number of people in 2016 than I did in 2015
  • Spent 80% of the year as sick as a dog, thanks to my old friend M.E.
  • Finished the first end to end draft of my novel, The Kissing Stopped
  • Wrote the Hurt & Hopeful manifesto

It was a frustrating year due to ongoing illness, and I missed a lot of friend and family occasions. And I just had to pull out of a big party in London on December 30th because of yet more ill-health. I’ve been looking forward to that for 3 months.

It also felt very much like I lost some of my mojo when it comes to seeing good people and writing. Friends are somewhat scattered around the world, with many of my favourite people being in the USA, some 3000 miles away, or more. I need good people in my life, and I miss those connections.

Writing came in fits and starts, with brain fog getting in the way a whole lot. But when I look at the list above, and see what I did write, I wrote a lot. That feels pretty good. Perhaps I should give myself a break.

There were days were I could barely stand up or think straight, but every client I spoke with and every question I responded to by email gave me energy and a big dose of the warm-fuzzies. And some people were downright awesome enough to email me just to let me know that something I’d written, somewhere, had helped them.

So perhaps I shouldn’t be so judgmental about how much of the year I was sick for or how little I connected with people.

Point is, it’s the easiest thing in the world to be hard on yourself or beat yourself up for a lacklustre 2016.

Stop it.

You’re doing way better than you give yourself credit for.

Could you do better? Could you crank things up a level? Maybe. Probably.

But please don’t let that diminish your self-worth right now or what you managed to achieve last year. The fact that you’re here, looking forward, counts.

Ignore the people who are talking about making 2017 “epic”, or crushing it or rocking it or any other quarry-based verb. That’s unhelpful hyperbole, and speaks more about their inner narrative than yours. 2017 doesn’t have to be epic, or life-changing or epoch-shifting if those things don’t resonate with you.

Choosing to live an honest life where you can offer simple value to others, is not second-best.

Far from it.

A sweet and beautiful life should never be plan b.

And one things’s for sure. As you move into 2017, I want to help you more.

I want to do things and create things that help you live a sweet and beautiful life.

So, think a little about what that might look for you, Then, if you care to, answer this one question in whatever way feels right:

What is your biggest block to living a sweet and beautiful life?

Don’t hold back.

Life’s too short to not let the truth fly.

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