Have you ever played a scenario back in your mind and thought, “That’s what I should have said!”? These days, for better or for worse, I usually say exactly what I think in any given situation, but it wasn’t always that way. For the vast majority of my life, I played defense – reacting to situations instead of proactively anticipating them. Most of the time, this was due to my tremendous lack of self esteem but even deeper than that, I truly believed that I had NOTHING of value to contribute. How many of you can relate to this feeling?
It wasn’t until about 3 years ago, after countless therapy sessions, that I was able to finally stand on my own two feet and put myself out there with confidence. While I don’t believe that you can completely ignore the opinions of others, I do think you can filter them through the truth and better position yourself to walk away from any difficult situation with confidence. Words hurt, they are heavy, they have a long shelf life and we can NEVER take them back. With that in mind, I’m going to give you 3 techniques I’ve learned to remain bold in the face of adversity. These techniques will keep you from saying something in a reactive tone that you will regret and can never have back. Before I do that, let me paint a picture:
You are sitting in a meeting discussing new ways to increase sales and you get an idea. You know it’s a good one, but you don’t know if anyone else is going to agree or even care. You can either hold it in and fade into the background, or you can RISK it, put it out there, and face possible rejection. I make the case for putting it our there and here are those 3 techniques I use to be bold in the face of fear:
- Know your value – Regardless of what is said after the words leave your mouth, your value isn’t tied to the response. You are a sacred human being and you don’t have to justify your creative thoughts to anyone. There is nothing that anyone can SAY that will change who you are. You are not what other people say about you…you are the only YOU there is.
- Slow down – When the blood gets pumping and the heart rate starts to spike, the natural tendency is to speed up what you are going to say to get the pain over with – kind of like ripping off a band-aid. There are no shortcuts here…it sucks and you will feel like you’re standing naked in front of everyone. The fact is that you are in CONTROL. Take a breath and purposely slow down your speech.
- Strengthen your posture – There are many authorities who contend that changing your body language will increase confidence and internal solidarity (Amy Cuddy, Tony Robbins). If you are sitting down, try leaning back in your seat with your hands behind your head while you deliver your point. If you are standing, face your audience squarely with your hands on your hips. It is amazing how doing these little things changes your mindset.
“John, that’s great but what if they shoot down what I have to say?” I’m glad you ask. Wash, rinse and repeat. Know your value, slow down, and strengthen your posture. This isn’t some “fake it til you make it” bullshit. It’s real and it works. The more you believe that you have value, even in the face of complete rejection, the more comfortable you become with being uncomfortable.
Is there anything else that has helped you be bold in the face of adversity? I want to know. As usual, there’s plenty more to come.
I’m not done yet…