Keep It Confident

Long before the calendar turned to 2021, I began to think about the things I want to accomplish this year. I love a new year. I love the feeling of having a clean slate and believing anything is possible. But what pushes possible into probable? I believe it all comes down to confidence. Just about anything significant I have ever done in my life, at least to some degree, comes down to this. Whether you want to start a business, accomplish your goals, or simply to be better than you were last year, you will need confidence and you will have to take risks, right? This means getting uncomfortable, asking for deals, approaching the stranger, investing money in a stock, or doing whatever it is that is important for you to do. Taking risks can lead to failure. Failure can lead to lost confidence. However, I believe that long term work on building confidence sprinkled with short term quick fixes to make sure you don’t lose it for too long will separate you from most Tom Dick & Harry’s. In this blog, I will lay out some things I work on constantly to build confidence and rebound from those sudden gut-punches when yours gets “shook.”
  1. Develop The Core

While some of this writing is about quick tips on how to regain lost confidence, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least give some personal thoughts on core confidence. Parenting, your upbringing, coupled with your surroundings all play a significant role in core confidence. So if you are reading this and not living with your parents, congratulations! But also, if you did still live with your parents you may need more help than I can give here and your window for parental influence may have passed. Building core confidence in childhood allows for the necessary mindset to do anything and be anyone in life. I have literally been amazed at certain people’s unbelievable accomplishments that I originally thought had no chance. Confidence! You can instill core confidence in your kids by encouraging them to push to failure because life gets tough and dealing with those realities is important in the long run.  Remind them that failure happens but also pick them up and show them how to win. I knew what winning AND losing looked like as a kid and was not unnecessarily showered with fake accolades. Instead, I was told I could do anything and then failed over and over because I was repeatedly pushed to new limits by my parents. Try new things, meet a lot of people, perform at things I disliked and many things I sucked at. All to build confidence.
  1. Keep Going

So much content out there offers generic words that seem useless because nothing can be applied. Something like, “mindset is everything.” Ya, ok, mindset is important but I cannot realistically close my eyes, tell myself I am amazing, and then poof….Superman! This drives me nuts. Here’s what I think…
  • Confidence is a skill. It is a trait that must be exercised ALL the time. But how?
  • We must be aware of it and gauge it. But how?
  • We must be prepared when our confidence gets beat up a bit. But how?
I have always been athletic and I competed seriously when I was younger. Someone I respected once called me an “overachiever”  and it made me furious.  I took it as an insult to my God-given natural ability. In my head, I believed I was 6’4 when a tape measure told me I am 5’10. I believed I had the best hands, jump ability, speed, and intellect even when practice film and test scores sometimes said otherwise. Though this boisterous attitude has wavered for me on occasion, it has served me very well in my life. What’s the saying….ignorance is bliss? But what about when things unexpectedly go wrong?
  1. Confidence through Preparation

I was 28 years old and I owned a fast-growing company. I recognized the opportunity my company had in front of it and thought I would be suited for some coaching as we embarked on scaling to a level in which I had never encountered as a CEO. Therefore, I joined a CEO peer group called Vistage. My second meeting was my first opportunity to present to the group, which consisted of CEOs in varying industries with companies valued at a range from $10M to several hundred million. These were some of the brightest minds in the world. I put together a quick PowerPoint presentation to describe my company and its financials to the group. I thought the presentation was an opportunity to showcase my success, to flaunt and be applauded. Oh was I wrong…and greatly unprepared! In fact, this may have been the most ill-prepared I have ever been for anything in my life. I thought I knew my business, my numbers, and everything in between. I did not. They exposed me and wouldn’t let me off the hook. I had no answers to their questions about my own company that any CEO should know.  I had to sit and take the beating. They made me realize that I had gotten so far in life by bullshitting, talking, and moving fast, but that wouldn’t cut it anymore. I could also see that I was underperforming and not recognizing my potential…aka being an “underachiever.” My confidence was shaken. So what did I learn and what do I do now when these situations come up? I compartmentalize!
  1. Compartmentalize

As an 18-year-old starter playing my first game in front of 100k fans,  I dropped a pretty important pass early in the game. I came to the sideline and my head coach aggressively grabbed my facemask, and screamed at me “why the hell is this kid even playing, get him outta here!!?” From there I headed to the bench, looked up to the crowd before sitting down, and some guy in the second-row screams, “Hey LeBlanc, do you even practice?” Luckily all of this was on national television.  Any success I had ever had playing sports was gone in an instant. Too soon to retire? In my head, I started believing I wasn’t good enough. That other people were bigger, better, smarter….shit, even better looking than me at that moment (even with helmets on). My mind started to play tricks on me. I was nervous, embarrassed, and had more self-doubt than I thought I could handle… And this was only 15 minutes into the second game of my college career. This was a total gut-punch. I needed to re-focus. I needed to compartmentalize, and that’s exactly what I did. I went back to my training. Visualized catching a pass and remembered a great success on the field from sometime before. Mental hurdles will come unexpectedly, but we need not turn one bad thing into two. Momentum begets more momentum.  This can work with both winning and losing. This helped me catch hundreds more passes and enjoy a great career. Minimize the super highs and super lows and stay in a “flow” state. The next time your confidence gets “shook”  remember the following quick tips.
  1. Phone a Friend

Certain people in our lives fuel high energy and confidence. I have a few that I call on regularly. They themselves are confident and exude a spirit that can instantly make me feel invincible. Surround yourself with as many of these people as you can and call them as soon as bad shit crushes you. Don’t bring them down with your story, ask them a few questions, and listen to what confidence is. You’ll remember instantly and it can help get you back on track.
  1. Quick Wins to turn Momentum

This can mean different things to different people. Some consider small wins waking up early, working out, or a quick meditation. While I like all of the above, here is one trick I use that’s more impactful and meaningful to me. I renegotiate my DirecTV bill! I call a vendor and I start sweet-talking a complete stranger into 20% off of my monthly bill. A little fun negotiation in which the chances of me winning are high, the banter will be comforting, and the outcome will even save me some dough. WIN WIN WIN!! Wins like this create momentum back in your direction and can catapult you back to being your dominant self.
  1. New Shoes

I don’t know about you, but when I put on a pair of shoes I instantly feel more powerful. My walk and talk just feel different. Have you ever gone out with a new pair of shoes and walked into wherever you are going and thought, “I fucking own this place?” I feel ya. Got a big meeting, a big date, or need some quick confidence, go get a fresh pair!!!
  1. Gamify it

Did he or she break up with you? Big business deal didn’t close? Happens to me all of the time, so, I created a little competition (with myself). Gamify means applying elements of a game and competing to something in real life. I use such aspects and created point-scoring and rules to have some fun with getting myself out of whatever rut I am in. For example, when I am feeling “less than” I love to push myself physically. I use a scorecard where I give myself 1 point for a 45-minute cardio run, and 5 points for a 45-minute cardio doing something I’ve never done before such as mountain biking a new trail. I give myself 1 point to make my bed in the morning and 5 points to wake up at 4:00 am. You get the point, and there are several others. I gamify for a week and need to beat my previous day’s score for the next 7 days. I have fun pushing new limits and this distracts me from whatever nonsense I am dealing with and motivates me to try new things that have several positive effects on my psyche. Make it a game, then compete.
  1. Stop Caring

A new superpower I have been working on for the last few years is to not care about the “not important to care about” stuff and to care deeply about the parts that are of importance to my life, relationships, and experiences. This takes a more holistic approach and something that is developed over time. I started to get into the habit of writing some of these down to track. I also write down how I rank (scale 1-10 works for me) different and unique life events and what they were on the scale determined by my level of “give a fuck.” Not caring about little shit has helped me stay at a high level of confidence for a more sustainable period of time. The sweet spot!!! Need a little more?  Here’s some Rapid Fire Fun for confidence building:
  • Give someone a SINCERE (keyword) compliment.
  • Say “hello” to a stranger and try and engage in conversation.
  • Always pick the plan/what to do/where to go on a first date.
  • Get a  perfect-fitting suit! This will make you feel like you own the world. Figure out how and where you can wear one to get that feeling as often as possible.
After 20 years with my therapist examining what “overachieving” meant from that old coach many years ago, I am now comfortable with believing that part of it means that my confidence creates my own reality.
  • BELIEVE: Today I believe that I am capable of being the CEO of a billion-dollar business.
  • COMPARTMENTALIZE: Drop a pass, move on.
  • REBOUND: Have a set of quick and easy ways to regain confidence when you get “shook.”
  • MINIMIZE THE HIGHS AND LOWS: Stay in the confidence “flow state” and watch your accomplishments soar.
  • FOCUS AND WIN: get hit, don’t fall, and most importantly punch harder and faster to win the fucking fight of life.

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