One of them was trying to hit on me once, impressing me with his multibillion blah blah business. He was so arrogant he didn’t even notice my eye rolling and attempted escape. It was only when I remembered his wife’s name and asked how she was, that his confidence started to falter.
The problem is that so much of what society tells us is “confidence”, is Harvey from Suits: arrogance, bravado and brashness; often wrapped up in a sharp suit with slicked back hair. That then drives an army of mini-me’s with the same (if slightly less curated) skin-peelingly, painful behaviour. And so, the cycle goes on. I’ve worked with many people who believe that is The Goal they should achieve and unsurprisingly (and thankfully), don’t have it in them. They may be calmer, more introverted, empathetic or just plain honest; aware of their strengths and limitations, whilst not prepared to boast. Unfortunately, this is often seen as weak, ‘not ready’ for that promotion or lacking in ‘gravitas’ (whatever that means).
I like to think of true, Authentic Confidence, as more Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank. Christine has poise, boldness, intelligence and grit, without the grip of arrogance and ego that requires the fawning and fear of minions.
And one of the biggest reliefs I see on people’s faces, is when I say:
“You don’t have to be Harvey – you can be You”.
Confidence isn’t about trying to be someone else, it’s about being 100%, unapologetically your own self.
How do you do that? By letting go.
Letting go of the pressure and stress of trying to be someone you’re not
Letting go of pretending; trying too hard and being fake
Letting go of the fear of ‘I might fail’ and replacing it with ‘it doesn’t matter if I fail, because I’ll learn’ (it is never, ever, as bad as you think it will be)
By letting go, you free up the energy to be creative, playful and real. It’s permission to shine, with the strengths and experience that you, and only you, have.
I tried being the Stepford Wives version of a leader, having been instructed not to show emotion or make too personal a connection with my team. One evening, in a moment of weakness after ‘one more’ gin and tonic, I started telling them my terrible dating stories and then the real connection began. “That was when they fell in love with you” said the team manager – the ice queen had finally been cracked.
Try for a week, a day or even an hour. Give yourself a chance with no barriers; allow the gloves to be down and really feel what it’s like to stop pretending.
Authenticity = being real. Try it on for size – it will definitely fit you if you’re willing to wear it. Because isn’t that what we are all craving to see anyway, in this world of filters and fabrication?