I’m reading a book I found about how diet impacts the brain. The book is written by a doctor who is obviously a smart guy. But, it’s also obvious to me that he’s an unrepentant egomaniac who thinks he knows all the answers, which, in my experience isn’t that uncommon for doctors.
I wonder if they think about it. In their quieter moments do they wonder about their own fallibility? Or is it hard wired into some smart and capable people to have no self-doubt? This brings up some interesting philosophical questions about the line between confidence and hubris and the dangers inherent.
But that’s not my point. My point is about the power of eliminating all self doubt. The power of assuming you can do anything. The power of assuming competence. I think this is clearly a way for people to have breakout performances. I like to call this “Fake it ‘til you make it”
This guy wrote a New York Times best seller by declaring vigorously that his ideas were right and everyone else’s by comparison were wrong. (By the way, who are these New York Times people and why are they so fascinated with these kinds of diet-expose’ books? They should get a life.) His confidence in stating his case adds weight to it and makes it seem correct.
All of us have situations in our lives where we walk into challenging situations. These challenging situations are very important because they are the inflection points in your life. Most of us try to avoid these inflection points because we see them as moments of supreme risk. The big presentation, the test, the interview, the crisis – just hearing me say these words probably caused 99% of you to start pumping fight or flight chemicals.
They are inflection points. Based on the outcome of this one event your life will change directions. Forever. That’s why they scare the heck out of you. Because that inflection could be going in the wrong direction if you screw up the interaction!
Consider, for a minute, if instead of approaching these inflection points with fear, you approached them with confidence? Consider people who seek out these inflection points as a way to accelerate their lives. These are people who systematically put themselves into these high-risk, high-reward situations because they realize that this is the shortest path to success.
Why can’t you do that? Probably because you are afraid. Mostly afraid of failing. If you’re like 99% of the population you get a sick, tight feeling in the pit of your stomach when a simply say “Fear of Failure”. That’s normal.
But I’m going to challenge you today. My challenge to you is to seek out and find one critical inflection point. A presentation, an interview, a phone call, a race, something that scares the hell out of you. Something that if you do well will advance your life and if you do poorly will set you back. Something with great risk of success. Volunteer for it.
Now, since I want you to be successful you’re going to prepare well for this first inflection point. Later, as you get good at it you’ll take great joy in jumping without looking, but for this next one let’s raise the chance of success.
Block out as much time as you need on your calendar to study and prepare. If it is a presentation or other high-stakes interaction, then you need to practice. For this exercise give yourself the time to over prepare and over practice.
For example if I have a high stakes presentation I will story board the presentation first. Then I will script it, writing out every word and emotion and act. Then I will practice presenting it at least three times, one of those with a test audience. By the time I walk into that presentation I know my shtick cold and this allows me to present with confidence. When I have confidence in the material I can focus on the audience and the nuances of the interaction instead of having to think about what I’m doing. My brain is not being bombarded with fear chemicals and I can think on my feet.
Whether it is asking the boss for a promotion, asking the bank for a loan, pitching some private equity guys for an investment – be over prepared and you can execute with confidence.
Go ahead. Take this challenge.
As the moment of truth approaches you may start with the negative self talk and this is where ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ comes into play. Inside your head your devilish mind starts reminding you of all the reasons you are unqualified. But, remember this is inside your head! No one else can see or hear this.
When you walk out onto stage you just start acting like you know what you’re doing. Just assume you are the expert. Just become that person who knows everything and can do anything and is always right. Before you know it others will start to believe you. Before you know it you may even start to believe it yourself.
I’m not talking about hubris. I’m not talking about egomania. I’m talking about a sense of benign self confidence that inspires all around you.
Take this challenge. Seek out your inflection point. Fake it until you make it and you will discover an amazing thing – that in the end it may turn out you weren’t faking it.