Most of us will never attend an Ivy League school. I didn’t. I waited until my senior summer to apply for college, took the placement test with a hangover, and ended up at a small state school close to home. That’s another story though. The prestigious Ivy League sets itself apart and promises a quality education and higher paying jobs. That’s how we view these schools like Stanford, Harvard, and Yale; but how do they view themselves? A speaker at Harvard asked individuals of a freshman class which of them thought that they’re the one ‘mistake’ the admissions board made. Two thirds of the room immediately raised their hands. A lack of self-confidence is responsible for 80% of the ‘why’ people don’t act. So where does confidence come from and how can you easily build some this week?
I am not rich nor am I at a job that is utilizing my expensive college degree. I do not have a car and I ride the bus multiple times a day. I recently quit a management job without a backup plan and now perform, at times, janitorial duties at work. Others possess what I do not and yet, I am told I display confidence. If circumstances don’t generate confidence than what does? Attitude? Yes, I do think that attitude has a lot to do with this confidence problem but not all of it. I’ve heard that it’s your attitude, not your aptitude, which determines the altitude at which you soar. The nice alliteration and rhyme scheme helps that quote stick but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. There is a much stronger technique to creating confidence that you have direct control over- behavior.
Most of our life is shaped by the decisions we make. Have you ever thought about it like that? Yes we may have ideas, morals, or a belief system but none of that matters if we don’t express it through certain behaviors. I had an old girlfriend often remind me the old adage ‘actions speak louder than words.’ She was right. They not only speak louder than words but actions can have a major impact on the way we view ourselves. Are you always on time or are you often late? Do you workout on a routine or just whenever you feel like it? Obviously I could delve deeper into the personal sacrifices required to achieve certain goals for each of us but that’s not my point today. I’m saying that your behavior will either boost your confidence or dampen your spirit.
Personally, my behavior has been the trademark of New Year. It has been the defining difference from a year ago. Let’s look at, if you will, a snapshot of my week. I built my work availability around two commitments- a young peoples group on Wednesday nights and church on Sunday. I focus on getting to these two things every week and guarantee myself work won’t get in the way. I made a personal commitment to myself. After a few weeks I added a fitness membership to this schedule. To use my investment I decided to start each day at the gym before work. All I did was change my behavior. I made it priority to honor these commitments to myself. These required other changes like getting up earlier and taking multiple busses etc. BUT my mind was set. Doing this consistently, I found a change in my attitude. I’m more confident and sure of myself in conversation. I’m more optimistic about what I can accomplish. I’m encouraging to others in their own personal goals. This rough outline of my week helps me be more structured in my day. When someone invites me to something, I’m mentally prepared to answer at what times I’ll be available. My life feels like I’ve discovered some magical remedy. So recently I traced back my actions and found that it all started with honoring a personal commitment to myself.
My point is this: In a world obsessed with horsepower, political power, and nuclear power- where is the importance of willpower. Instagram, if you’re familiar, is holding a contest called #resolutionfail. The entire premise is to send in pictures that show how horribly you’ve failed to keep your New Year’s Resolution.
This is what we’re glorifying to the next generation? If you want to build some confidence, make a commitment and keep it. John Wooden was obsessed with his players being on time for EVERYTHING. If you showed up out of uniform or not clean-shaven for a road trip, the bus AND plane left without you. Wooden later admitted that being on-time was one of the only rules he made for himself and wanted to pass that onto his players. This is coming from the winningest coach in college basketball history! (UCLA by the way) One rule. This week I challenge you to make a commitment to yourself and keep it. This can be as simple as eating only oatmeal for breakfast. No matter what happens, you are going to start your day with oatmeal. Nothing can deter you. No McMuffin will tempt you. Do this for a month. In your daily conversations and schedule you will see a difference. By honoring a simple commitment, you will have more confidence. You will be surer of yourself in conversation and personal goals. Want to know the most exciting thing about this? It makes you want to master MORE commitments! No one goes into his or her day saying, “Today I will become master of every aspect of my life.” It is a building process of becoming master of one and another and another. Consistency builds confidence. Pretty soon others will look at your routine and think, “How do they get so much done? They seem so confident in themselves.” Hopefully, by that time, you’ll be able to smile back at them and say, “Try oatmeal.”