How do you become fearless?
Where does self confidence come from?
These are huge questions and obstacles to so many. Our lack of confidence can hold us back from getting that new promotion, meeting that new love, leaving an old one, or embracing a new professional path…Bottom line, fear can keep us from being us and I believe that is just it. Being “you.” Just be you! When I started focusing on what made me tick, what made me feel alive, I started to find that I was happier. So I dug deeper, observed myself with honesty and what I found was alarming. I had a shell, a carapace of things covering me as protection. These things were just camouflage, hiding who I really was, but they weren’t substance. They were just there to hide my inadequacies from others, but mostly from myself. They allowed me to have some sort of confidence when I had none, but it wasn’t real. It was transparent, hollow, useless when really tested. It was only when I stopped pretending to be something I wasn’t, did I ever start growing as a person. Without the distractions of trying, forcing myself to be what was perceived as cool, I was able to start developing the things that make me who I am. As I progressed through self development and strengthened the parts of me that came naturally, a funny thing happened. My clear, useless armor, started to fall away.
Here’s the thing, the coolest, most confident people in the world are not the best, the brightest, or the richest, but they are the purest. They have released their ego! Let it go completely and in doing so, found absolute freedom. They are no longer bound by the fleeting opinions of others. No longer concerned with who is the best, or the strongest, or the prettiest, or the richest…Unburdened by the weight of trying to be what others think is cool, these individuals are free to pursue what is really important; striving to be the best version of themselves possible. Instead of being jealous or envious of another, they can foster a healthy respect for another being on a different path giving their all. The negative emotions slip away when you know you are giving everything you have. To these “purists,” seeing someone at the next level simply shows them that they can get better. Instead of saying something negative about the competition and feeling bad about themselves, they say, “ What can I do to reach that level?” With a smile on their face and a tune on their lips, they get back to work.
Ironically, these individuals that have foregone the ego and pursued the things that make them feel alive, make them happy, bring them pleasure, end up being the best, the coolest, the richest and most importantly, the happiest. They didn’t start that way, though! They didn’t save up money at a minimum wage job just so they could buy nice clothes. Instead, they wore shitty clothes while they focused on making themselves better, which leads to making more money and eventually nicer clothes if they choose. Those same people could wear their shabby clothes and still maintain a smile and shine confidence in the company of any group of people, because their true possessions are inside. They are the fancy watch, the nice shoes, and their “cool” can never be taken away from them.
Our true value and the attributes that make someone cool or respected are not tangible.
This epiphany, this truth, works in two ways. Not only does this allow you to ignore the negative, it also allows you to find comfort when confronted by superior individuals. A true painter doesn’t feel bad about himself in the presence of another brilliant artist near-by. He knows that his art is his and his alone. If he is truly putting his heart and soul into his work, then the other artist is an inspiration to get better, not a threat or an assault on his work. We have no real competition besides ourselves. When you truly try to be the best you possible, competition is fun and inspiring, not abrasive or belittling.
This concept translates to all aspects of life. Let me remind you that there will always be someone better, stronger, faster, smarter, better looking, whittier, or more charismatic… Let that sink in!
That realization isn’t meant to hurt, it is simply fact. When you can accept that truth, your focus changes direction. Instead of trying to be better than everyone else, which leads to insecurities and compensating with empty “stuff,” you focus inward and look for ways to improve. Competition pushes us all, but if you are always chasing your competitor, you can never take the lead.
Ive been an athlete all my life, so obviously, I strive to be the best. I know I never will be, but whether that is right or wrong is not important. I believe we all have the potential to be the best. That is key, but it is the mind set that really matters. When I meet that person and I am bested, it is because they worked harder than me. They don’t win because I am worse, they win because they wanted it more before we met. What does that mean to me? That means that I need to work harder. If I truly train as hard as I can between the next time we meet and still lose, I can leave the arena feeling proud of myself and having respect for my opponent. I don’t give up, or submit to being second, I hate losing, but I don’t feel bad for myself if I truly worked my hardest. Its when you slacked off that you start to feel bad or ashamed. Now, I just know that there is another level to reach, more work to do, and if he can get there, so can I. Having this attitude that someone else is always better will help you constantly progress. I find comfort in this and it motivates me.
When I started modeling, which was completely new for me, I had to depend on a different lesson. Many of you look at models and movie stars and think they have it all figured out. They must be cool and confident because they are pretty and everyone likes them. Well, you may be pleased to know that these people are some of the most insecure and lost people on the planet. Many, not all, define themselves by their looks and appearance. Their whole existence centers around their physical form. Their confidence and happiness is therefore based on how they are perceived by others. Unfortunately for them, beauty is subjective and the same rule I mentioned earlier applies to appearance; there will always be someone better. They spend their day consumed with who is prettier, how many people liked their pictures, and how many followers they have. When things are going well, they feel great and behave like they should be treated like Gods. When things don’t go great, they tear themselves apart, consumed by the need to be the prettiest and the most liked. They do ridiculous things like get plastic surgery and fat burners to get skinnier. What happens when they get older, they get in an accident, or the opinions of the people sway out of their favor? They crumble, because they based their happiness and value as a person on something with no substance; something that could be taken away. When their beauty or body is stolen from them, what is left? Being attractive may be nice, but it doesn’t make you cool, give you intelligence, or a good person. In my opinion, good looks is often accompanied by poor self esteem, a poor work ethic, and mediocrity because they are never forced to develop attributes that actually matter or that can bring real success.
I entered this industry knowing I would never be the best looking. You can’t control certain things and thet must be accepted. Then there are things you can control to compensate for the ones you can’t, like work ethic and determination. I didn’t need to be the prettiest, I just needed to work harder than everyone else. I also know that relying on looks and modeling is sort of like playing the lottery. It only takes the right person to make you a star, but how often does that happen? It would stress me out and rip me up trying to move up in an industry controlled by the opinions of others. So I decided to use it to help me get to where I wanted to go, but it would never be my everything. Im using the gifts and opportunities that I am given and the ones I create to get my life to where I want it to go.
Modeling makes me nervous, but so do many things. I decided to run with an opportunity and so far, its been ok. Thats how we grow, though. You have to be willing to push your boundaries. Sometimes you find that you are capable of so much more, and other times you find a limit. Some limits, you will learn, can be broken and others are meant to stand strong. If you stay true to yourself, you wont feel the need to satisfy the calls of peer pressure when you find one of your limits. Just remember that there are different ones you can break that your antagonizers cannot.
We all have gifts. We all have talents. We are all made up of strengths and weaknesses. It doesn’t matter which ones you have, but how you use them. How you develop and foster the ones that make you who you are…Thats what makes someone cool. When you are able to grasp this, you will find that you will carry with you, your confidence, and feel comfortable in any circle. The need to compete will remain, but it will take a different form. You no longer will see another individual at a more advanced level and feel diminished. You will understand we all have our own path that carries us through life’s stages at different times and different paces. Haters will cease to have power over you. Their words will miss your emotions and fly right into the furnace that powers you. The best way to prove to them and yourself that you are doing it right is to keep getting better. The only people who will matter are the ones on your path, your friends and loved ones. You will find it easier and easier to make the choices that benefit your life, instead of the ones that slow your progress because of one simple truth you will come to understand.
The only person in the world with the power to accelerate your life towards your dreams or derail it all together, is the one looking back at you in the mirror.
And that is something we can all take confidence in…