Nobody really has it. We just want you to think we do, like the bluff the hero always beats the villain with.
I’m not even 100% confident with that statement I just wrote. Now I’m second guessing myself like I’m on a date and she’s ordered the salad.
Does she think I’m poor?
Does she think she’s fat? Did I make her think I thought that?
Does she wanna eat up quickly to get the hell out of here and ribs just take too long to eat?
Insecurity is the chainsaw to the forest of arrogance. It’s pruning you for your own good. Or is it?
Whether it’s dating, career goals or your thoughts on your own appearance, we need confidence as much as the air we breathe.
It creates the illusion of power, knowledge, ability & experience.
I’m going to teach you how to get it.
The pre-requisite to all of this starts with a story about a fat kid. Me. I was that fat kid.
Primary school was hard for me. I wasn’t as fast an agile as other kids and a fat boy is an easier target. (Cause there’s more of him right? Easier to hit…. NO that’s not what I mean.)
I ended-up quitting rugby during high school through embarrassment of having to shower with my peers after a game. Ironically, it was that extra activity that kept me from obesity, but I soon ended up there like a raindrop to a river. It was inevitable.
I’ve been fat, and I’ve been average build, so I’m qualified to say that nobody who’s obese is 100% happy. Bubbly? Sure. Always laughing? Sure. Shy’s away from building meaningful/sexual relationships with people they like through fear of embarrassment and ridicule? Sure.
Step 1 – Lie
We’ve all heard the saying “Fake it, til you make it”. I will fully stand behind that. With success comes confidence, which breeds more success.
Fake confidence begets success. Success begets real confidence. Real confidence begets success again.
The cycle goes on.
In 2006, when I was 16 years old I confided in a manager I had at the time called Steve Robb. You can definitely trust a man who has two first names, I thought.
He seemed to have it all. He used to walk out on lunch and come back with £300 cash from a few hands of Blackjack, drinking an ice cold Pepsi. He was £300 up before the ice had even had time to melt into his beverage.
He was always going on new dates with beautiful women and always had the right thing to say.
He’d been on photoshoots, directed seminars and had life figured out. Or so it seemed.
One Friday evening after work (illegally you should know, I wasn’t 18 for 2 more years) we went to a local bar for a drink where he spilled the beans on confidence and set me a challenge. I had to get a girls number before 7pm, without saying a word. The clock was ticking.
I pulled it off and felt AMAZING for the very first time in my life.
The closest I’d come to success before that was winning an award in school for best haircut, which thinking about it now, was definitely a joke.
SIDENOTE: Before you think of me as some chauvinist, you have to remember before that point, my only girlfriend was a girl called Chantelle and our entire relationship lasted the duration of one art class in high school. (Still a better love story than Twilight)
This continued for a few weeks with a new challenge every time, each with it’s own ridiculous set of parameters.
“You have to use a pernod and coke (a drink)”
“You have to get someone to buy you a drink”
Without knowing it, Steve had taught me to never fear rejection. Every time I was successful I was euphoric, elated and proud. Every time I wasn’t, I knew there would be a next time.
Not everyone will like everyone. Rejection in job interviews, relationships and social situations is just a part of life. You can’t let it affect your mental balance.
It’s okay to be knocked back, as long as remember to never take it personally if you were doing your best.
There will always be plenty of people better than you, and plenty of people worse.
Step 2 – Character
The biggest test of my character was when my reputation came into question on a TV special here in the UK.
My dry wit, sarcasm and self-deprecation came across as arrogance in the only 3 minutes of life I regret living.
I survived threats on my life, and lived through bullying and fat-shaming. Nothing I’d done was bad, but a 23 stone (322 pound) emo-kid was an easy target for online abuse.
It was a knock to my confidence, and one day un-employed and ashamed I found myself crying into a bathtub with the distorted sound of the radio playing through my phone speakers disguising my whaling.
I wrote my parents a heartfelt note, moved away to Oxford and realised life and the world is much bigger than it seems, and the difference between reputation and character is significant.
John Wooden sums it up perfectly:
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
I knew I was a good person, so I took away the only ammo anyone had. My weight.
Each day I found myself in the gym, lifting weights, attending spin classes and struggling on the stairmaster in an over-priced, under-lit LA Fitness.
The more weight I lost, the better I felt. Every 12lbs was a clothing size, and I was dropping fast.
I started to get looks, compliments, chat-up lines, kind messages from friends.
Being happy with yourself, your character, your hard work is a confidence you can’t fake, and it’s attractive to people and prospective employers.
Step 3 – Ability vs Arrogance
Okay, so you’ve faked it, made it, lost it, worked hard for it and got it back.
The other way you can gain confidence in yourself is by knowing what you’re able to do. This resonates more with you if you’ve got career goals/dreams/targets.
A friend of mine never says ‘lucky’ when describing his success. He says fortunate as luck implies there was no effort on his part.
He knew what his abilities were and put years of blood, sweat and tears into it. He’s famous within this industry, and prefers the term ‘fortunate’ when conveying modesty…but you shouldn’t have to fake that.
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Some stay slightly insecure to make sure they’re not crossing that line. Selling themselves and what they’re worth, short.
Keeping up appearances.
It’s okay to have faith in your ability and sell yourself. Nobody else will (but for God’s sake, never call yourself a ‘guru’ as a suffix to anything).
Arrogance is egotism. Confidence is just conviction.
In my career thus far, I’ve been fortunate enough to become a role model for some young men and women. They ask my advice on how to realise their dream of becoming a magician, part of Team E, getting #1 selling downloads etc etc.
It’s my responsibility to help them. Having learned the hard way.
People will knock you back, projecting their own insecurities on you. F*ck them.
Rejection is not the confirmation of your deepest insecurities. So never take it personally.
Dream jobs are real jobs. Dream girls are real girls. Dream bodies are just bodies.
Nothing is out of reach if you’re willing to work hard for it. Which sounds like a cliche, but it’s not.
Confidence is an illusion. Only you’ll know what’s real and what’s not.
The only real way to test if what you’re feeling is real is to put yourself out there. Be fearless, believe in your abilities and hope for the best.
Every doubt you’ve ever had has been shared by every person you’ve ever met at some point.
The most confident people are those who know they have nothing to lose.