Self- (confidence, awareness, respect, preservation…)

“Last year, selfie was named International Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries, so how about self- as Word of the Age? That’s not self on its own, but self- the prefix, as in self-portrait, self-parody, self-referential and maybe a little self-obsessed. It expresses the zeitgeist. It runs like a red thread through the words that are written, spoken and read everywhere, by everyone from self-made pop culture icons and self-appointed bloggers to the self-satisfied guardians of high culture.

Trends from Havas

“Creating a positive self-image is now recognized as a vital task for everyone, boosted by good measures of self-confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline, self-respect and self-regard. Getting those right sets off a self-reinforcing process, especially for energetic self-starters. On the other hand, people who are prone to self-doubt or self-pity might want to try a little self-compassion and self-acceptance as part of a self-directed self-improvement program. Self-conscious or self-critical people might find this all a little too self-absorbed, whereas others could find it positively self-aware.”

In continual disagreement with Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and in continual agreement with the quote above (from the Havas Worldwide white paper on the top 10 trends of 2015), I see self-confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline, self-respect and self-regard as vital qualities in today’s world. OK, maybe I am biased, but I still think that the Law of Attraction has got it sorted and that whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

So what are YOU doing to self-improve? How are YOU growing your confidence? Here’s 3 ways for people with little confidence in a particular area:

1) Decide, for no better reason than you have decided, that you will be more confident today.
Just deciding to be confident gives you confidence. Confident people don’t look for reasons to be confident, they just decide they are confident. The reason why you choose to wear that particular T-shirt, pair of trousers, skirt or hat is just as valid as the reason you choose to feel confident. It is all in the mind.

2) Reduce the tension.
Fear creates tension and tension is not helpful in overcoming lack of confidence. So with that new-found confidence (from deciding to be confident today), let go of the nervousness. Take a deep breath and let the tension go. Do it several times, until the tension has gone. Now you are ready to:

3) Take a (calculated) risk.
Confidence is the memory of past successes. If you want to build your past successes, you have to take risks. When you realise that those risks paid off (that you didn’t die), you can count it as a success and add it to the bank of past successes on which to build your confidence.

So now you can go out and conquer the world. Failing that, at least conquer your fear of talking to a stranger. Or that girl/boy you have the hots for. Or your lack of self-confidence!


3 simple tips to improve your exam results

In the Southern hemisphere, we are coming to the end of the school year, which invariably means EXAMS! The very word is enough to fill some students with dread. As you come up to exam time, how many times have you been told to just “get down and study!”, yet it’s still not happening? How many times do you watch yourself going to find some food, checking what others are saying about you in Facebook, saying yes to go out with people you don’t like, all just to get away from that desk, that blank piece of paper, that open book full of words, words, words? Exams are closely linked to our fear of failing. Yet tension and stress only make things worse.

Exam Fear

Here are 3 tips on how to be more focused, concentrated and clear-headed during exams:
1. As you approach the exams, relax. Learn as much as you can, but when you get to the exams, let go. What you know, you know. What you don’t know, you don’t know. You cannot know before the exam which questions will be asked, so don’t beat yourself up about not learning what you should have learned. Hindsight is good at making us feel miserable. So avoid it by only looking forward at the next exam (or the holidays, if it is your last one!).

2. Use a meditation to calm yourself just before you enter, or while sitting at your place, waiting for it to start. Breathe deeply and concentrate on your breath. Imagine you are fully relaxed – each muscle of your body from your head down to your toes. If you have never meditated before, check out this very good explanation of how to do a “breathing meditation”. If you prefer to have a guided meditation (where someone is speaking over peaceful music and you follow what they are saying), you can find them in YouTube. They can also be purchased from various online stores. One person I find very nice to listen to is Scott Gaul, who has a collection of various meditations at Quiet Mind Cafe.

3. Be fully in the moment. There is no danger during the exam, only fear. And F.E.A.R, as we know, is merely False Expectations Appearing Real. Don’t project into the future what may or may not happen, just be focused on what is happening now, the answer to the question you are working on at that moment. By separating danger from fear (danger is real, fear is perceived), you can easily convince yourself that you are not in danger of dying at any point during the exam (and if you are, please let the teachers know!). As long as you are not in danger, there is no need to let fear cloud your mind.

Good luck!



Confidence is…

Confidence is: Fighting our inner dragonsConfidence is courage. Confidence is doing what has to be done because it will lead to where you want to be. Confidence is feeling the resistance, but controlling it enough to push through that resistance. Confidence is fighting you inner dragons. Confidence is changing that inner voice which says you cannot, are not good enough, will never… Confidence is noticing that you are not happy and doing what it takes to become it. Confidence is taking responsibility for your life. Confidence is doing as much as you can. Confidence is realising that there are things that can be achieved more easily with help. Confidence is having the guts to say “No!”. Confidence is reaching out. Confidence is doing what it takes. Confidence means success. Confidence means fun. Confidence means love. Confidence means happiness. Confidence feels great!

What are you doing to increase your confidence?


Fear of being laughed at

I recently asked a lot of people what they would do with more confidence and got a close spread of answers, with these 2 being by far the most common:

– Do things despite the fact it would mean I am noticed by others
– Do things without worrying about what others would say

Instead of running towards our dreams...

Are you one of these people who would like to do something, but are afraid you would be seen by others? Maybe even criticised? Or laughed at?

What are you doing to live in freedom? What are you doing to break free of the shackles of what others think? How are you living the life you choose?




Failure?!? How can that be?!

“It’s not that you’re a bad pilot, it’s that you’re taking them to the wrong destination!”

That’s what my coach had to say when I told him I failed miserably last night. Fell flat on my face.

Have you ever had that feeling? Where you think you failed completely? You’ve heard the classic message, “Don’t stay down, get back up and try again!” Great. That doesn’t help. You still missed the opportunity. Maybe it was even a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, like mine last night.

I had a speech in front of, among other people, the speaker bureaus. The opportunity any speaker not already working full time and with a recognised name would die for. And I blew it. According to the feedback, my speech, which I had rehearsed for hours on end, was great. The presentation was great. My presence was great. But I was giving them 64 minutes worth of information in 6 minutes 40. Yes, you read that right: 6 minutes and 40 seconds. (Ever heard of Pecha Kucha? 20 slides, 20 secs each. That’s a total speaking time of 6 minutes 40. About enough time to make one point. Maybe two. I had 3 points: 3 fears and one way to overcome each one…) I failed to create a takeaway. I failed to be the best speaker of the 6 presenting. I failed to be second best (admittedly, I knew I wouldn’t be best, but I thought I might get 2nd place). I failed to make the bureaus say to themselves: “That guy is GREAT! I need to get him on as a client, so I can get him into companies. People will love him.” I failed to be coherent, concise, memorable. I failed. I fell on my face.

Since it is what I teach people and talk about, I knew the message. My head was saying, “That’s OK, just get up and do it again.”
But the rest of my body was saying, “MAN! That hurts! I’m no good. I won’t ever be a speaker. My speech was terrible. Everything I do is terrible. I suck. I might as well give up and find something else to do. If I find anything else I could be good at.”

So I rang my coach and complained at length about how unfair life is. And how badly I failed. That’s when he said the above line about me piloting the plane well, but taking people to the snow, when they wanted to go swimming in the Carribean – meaning that I am still a great speaker, just this time I was saying the wrong thing. It’s the sort of thing you want to try and avoid, but when it happens, even feedback doesn’t help avoid the fall. In terms of practical advice, he also told me to ring the speaker bureaus and follow up, ask them for feedback. So I did.

And that is when the magic happened.

When I asked for feedback, one bureau said that the format (Pecha Kucha) is not really representative of what they market to companies. So it was fun to watch, but hard to get a good idea of how well we would fit into a company on the basis of last night. We talked for a bit and I offered to invite them to my next keynote speech so they could get an idea of what I can do. They accepted. After that conversation, I had the feeling that I had created a contact. Someone who could be interested in hearing more about me in times to come. Not the impression I had last night, by any means. I felt uplifted and confident that I still had a chance. The window of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which I thought had been slammed shut, had suddenly been kept open! I could still feel the draught!

What I learned is that when you fail, fall flat on your face, you can get up alone, but it hurts. It is not easy. What is very helpful, is to have someone to help you get up. A coach, a mentor, a trainer – name them as you will –  someone who knows what you are trying to do and sees the greater picture, as well as has the emotional distance from your feeling of complete loss. Someone who is able to not only tell you how small your fall actually was, but also give you pointers as to how to ensure that you don’t stay down; that you get back up and try again. So you can follow the advice of all the great people who say that it is only by getting up and trying again when you have failed and fallen that you can reach success.

Of course, all of this has already been said by various people in various places at various times, but it hits home harder when it happens to you.