person looking through magnifying glasses

It was almost too good to be true, if it could work with this, what else? I smiled to myself as their praise felt like it was stolen straight from my imagination. I was under no illusion what had made the difference, I just didn’t think it would be this easy, or happen so quickly.

When I was younger I would lose things on a regular basis. I was often told the reason I couldn’t find things is because I would look with my eyes and not with my hands. I would be sent back to search again, this time using my hands, and lo and behold I would find what I was looking for. I didn’t realise applying that same piece of wisdom would be the key to finding my confidence.

I wanted to articulate my ideas and express myself more. I wanted to speak with more confidence. But all I seemed to think about were the things I did badly, where I lacked confidence, and how there were so many other great people out there doing it so well.

I decided to go looking with my hands instead of just my eyes.

I sat down with my journal and made a list of 5 people I thought were inspiring speakers. I wrote down what I saw in them that I liked so much. I made lists for each of them and then picked the top 3 points that I most wanted:

He articulates complex ideas in a simple way.

She speaks in a gentle, rhythmic way which was easy to listen to.

He could recall facts very quickly.

I began searching through my memory banks for all the different times and places I had articulated complex ideas in a simple way. The moments where I spoke in a gentle and rhythmic manner. Conversations where I recalled facts quickly. I took the time to really search for how I did it in my own way. The more memories I pulled out the better I began to feel. The more confident I began to feel.

Each morning for 2 weeks I spent a few minutes searching for more of these moments. During the day I became more aware of how I was communicating. I focused on those points, then recorded them in my journal. I was on the look-out for any examples I could add to my list, and then captured the evidence in writing.

By visualising and writing these moments down on paper I connected with what it felt like to speak that way. I could see the evidence piling up through the pages. I got to grips with how and when I did it, and made a purposeful choice to go and create more of them.

About a month later I had a last minute opportunity to speak at a local event. I had to prepare, practise and deliver that evening. I was praised for how articulately I expressed my ideas, how my speech was so easy to listen to, and how the facts were sharp and accurate. The exact ideas I had been giving my attention to the weeks before.

When I wanted to ‘be confident’ it was vague and unclear. When I sat down and put my thoughts in ink I gained clarity on what confidence really meant for me. It became something specific and something I could measure. The more I went looking the more I realised I had moments where I already did it. The more focus I put on them the more of those moments I created.

I built my confidence up from my memory banks and my attention. I recorded each moment to really connect with it.

We all have more skills and more resources than we give ourselves credit for. If self-criticism is a default, it makes feeling confident feel light years away. All it takes it for us to get clear on what we want, and to then to go searching for it – with our hands and our eyes.