“Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”
— Vince Lombardi
Sometimes we find inspiration in the strangest places.
A couple weeks ago I found myself transfixed to a CD recording of The Unemployed Millionaire by Matt Morris. At a certain point in the book, Morris recalls a conversation he had early in his career with a sales guru that was considered one of the best in the business. Morris quickly became a follower and sought every opportunity to learn everything he could about what made this special person tick.
Finally, Morris discovered the guru’s biggest secret he was so successful because of his overabundance of confidence. The only reason this salesman was able to excel in the sales industry was because he was always confident in his abilities. From that point onward, Morris decided to project confidence in everything he did and ultimately became a multi-millionaire businessman.
This story relates to my own life in many ways. I’m a contract archaeologist, which is a dream come true. For as long as I can remember, archaeology has been the only profession I ever wanted to work in. I absolutely love waking up early in the morning knowing that today could be the day I get to see an ancient treasure that has been lost for thousands of years.
It’s exhilarating to come across a 7,000-year-old arrowhead, or take a photograph of a fire pit that warmed up a Hohokam family’s house 1,000 years ago, or pick up and hold a fragment of George Washington’s dad’s wig curlers! These are just a few of the things I’ve done that sound unreal to other people, but they happen every day in my line of work. Archaeology is great and I love my job.
The only problem is that I work on a contract-to-contract basis. In simpler terms if there aren’t any contracts, I don’t have any work.
Like many other freelance or small-businesses fields, contract archaeology can be brutal because:
- There isn’t always work.
- Everybody wants to do the few jobs there are (In my case, some people will even do it for free).
- Generally, archaeologists aren’t good business people, so our companies frequently go under.
- The work is highly unreliable. Sometimes you’re overwhelmed with projects; sometimes you have nothing to do for weeks.
Do any of these things sound familiar? They probably do because an increasing number of us work on a contract-to-contract basis or in unreliable industries where it’s hard to depend on the fact that you’ll have a job tomorrow let alone a year from now. In order to survive, we’ve got to go where the work is and claw our way into what few jobs there are. This means we’re constantly searching for the next meal that will tide us over for a while.
Constantly searching for a job means we always have to market ourselves. Confidence is at the core of this self-marketing process. There are hundreds of workers with tons of experience, excellent resumes and references, and databases full of connections. But if they don’t project confidence when they meet potential employers or clients, they’re not going to be as successful as they could be.
Confidence starts in the mind. You have to believe deep in your heart that you REALLY CAN do the work. And in order to get to this mental state you have to EXPELL ANY NEGATIVE THOUGHT. This is hard, but getting rid of any doubt, nay saying, and negativity is the only way to cultivate true confidence. There are quite a few ways to help eliminate negativity and self-doubt, but here are four of my favorite methods:
Surround yourself with positive people.
(Especially those in your dream job field). Everybody knows how quickly someone with a bad attitude can spoil a work group. Pretty soon, the whole bunch is rotten. It’s important that you keep away from people that fill your mind with negative thoughts. If you can’t stay away from some of the bad apples, try to bring some positivity into their lives. This will help keep you from falling into their mindset and might even bring up their spirits.
Never say “maybe”, “I’ll try”, or “I can’t”.
Those three sayings are confidence cripplers. Uncertainty makes it hard for you to maintain control over the only things that are certain in life the actions you do. Your actions are the only thing you have a remote chance of controlling. When you say “maybe” or “I’ll try” you are relinquishing that control and leaving it up to fate, which makes it easy for you to find an excuse for not getting stuff done.
Like Yoda said in Empire Strikes Back, “Do or do not. There is no try.”Saying “can’t” is even worse than “maybe” or “I’ll try” because you are essentially accepting defeat. Building confidence means you have to be willing to take chances on things you haven’t yet accomplished. The only way to get more accomplishments is by doing the things you think can’t be done. I treat “can’t” like a curse word. A true gentleman never curses in front of children, women, or their elders, and they try not to do it around other people they respect. Since I respect almost every person, I pretty much never say can’t.
Rephrase your goals as if you already have achieved the job or success you’re seeking.
Matt Morris had a great way of putting something I had already internalized long ago: Rephrase your goals so that they sound like accomplishments. This exercise drastically shortens the distance between you in the present and your unrealized dreams.
I started doing this years ago, when I was still studying to become an archaeologist. I spent 7 years in college working on the education I needed to get a job in archaeology. Throughout the entire time I was in college, I always kept talking about my work as if I already was a professional archaeologist. That’s how I introduced myself to the people I met and that’s how I saw myself. It’s no wonder I’ve been blessed with the exact job I always wanted. I projected the image of myself that I always wanted and, eventually, I became that person.
Never give up.
If the job is something that you really want badly and it’s all you ever think about, keep marching forward. Never doubt that you’ll get your dream job because you never know what’ll happen. If you want it bad enough, you might even go out and start your own business, creating a job for yourself that didn’t exist before.
These four tips will go far in instilling unshakable confidence deep into your psyche. There are many paths you can take in life, but they only go in two directions: upward towards success and happiness or straight ahead to mediocrity and lethargy.
Confidence means choosing the upward path. Wouldn’t you agree?
Photo by DepositPhotos.
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