Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Are You an Inspiration, or an Inspirer?

Exposing the Con of Confidence!

Confidence is KING! Go in STRONG! You have to BELIEVE!

Nowhere is this more important than in the world of sales - though one could argue it is EQUALLY as important in many, even most, areas of life.

If you go into a sales meeting without confidence, your likelihood to actually make a sale goes significantly down. Wow, news to you, right? Of course, if you go in with too much confidence, you can blow the sale just as easily. The real confidence killer is when you go in with just the 'right' amount of confidence, and STILL don't make the sale!

That's the con of confidence - that it assures success. Except when it doesn't, which causes us to incrementally lose confidence, which can be the beginning of a self-fulfilling downward spiral of doubt, tentativeness, and compounded failure.

Where does confidence come from? Often, the first confidence comes when we have little idea what we're getting into - and it's usually when we're young. REALLY young. We try to walk with little evidence that we can. Our confidence is usually bolstered by adults who want us to walk - but then beaten down when those same adults DON'T want us to walk, run, climb, or do anything that inconveniences them (or puts us in dangerous situations).

From that moment, our confidence is mostly managed by others, both in terms of what we're allowed to do, and the results of our confident actions. The most confident student can get a poor grade - especially in situations where grading is subjective. The most confident athlete will finish second, fifth, or even last. The most confident boy or girl can still get turned down for a first date. These outcomes, just like most sales outcomes, are out of our complete control. Other people and external circumstances directly affect our results. The results then affect our confidence.

The expectation remains, however, that WE manage our confidence INTERNALLY. Wait, what?

The truth? Few people care about bolstering your confidence. The less confidence you show, the less others have confidence in you, and the less likely they will be to encourage the confidence you might have. Sounds harsh, but reality is harsh. Beyond your super-supportive Mom or spouse, you are on your own.

Fortunately, the harsh news is also the happy news. While you can't always control the results of your actions, you can control the action of your actions. Without actions, you get no results, and no return on investment, because there's no investment. But as long as you continue to take action, you can ensure a return on your investment, even if the return isn't exactly what you hoped. You at least have something to work with - to build from. To build a solid confidence that is based on experience, not just bravado.

Let your actions, and your assessment of the results, build your confidence. Take confidence from what you learn in failure as readily as you do in success. Define victory for yourself, based not just on what the outside world expects, but the experiences you create. Be open to variations of success - times when you're behind the expectations curve of others, times when you are perceived as a shooting star outpacing your peers.

While your results will always vary, you can control your confidence when you recognize the con - that confidence guarantees success. When your confidence sits separately from your results, but instead securely within the energy of your chosen actions, it truly does become the powerful and steadying tool you thought it was in the first place.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Excellence. It's Worth Rooting For.

"I'm rooting for Excellence."

Over the past few days, Toastmasters International, a 98 year old non-profit organization focused on building leadership and communication skills, held it's
 World Championship of Public Speaking. I've been a member since 1999, and have competed in this particular contest numerous times, finishing as high as 3rd in the World in 2006, top 10 in 2008, and top 20 in 2002, 2007, and 2009.

As a coach, I've worked with many other contestants over the years, all of whom have reached various levels of success. As a 23 year Toastmaster, I've made friends with 1000s around the world - and many invariably end up competing at the highest levels of the contest.

All this to say this - I routinely get asked "who are you rooting for"?

My answer is always this -
 "I'm rooting for Excellence."

Typically, excellence wins out, but I'm not just rooting for excellence to WIN, but for excellence across the board. Only one can win in a competition like this one, but all can show excellence in their performance, delivery, and/or content.

Rooting for excellence goes beyond Toastmasters, of course. When I can't root for my Iowa Hawkeyes, Colorado Avalanche & Rockies, or Denver Nuggets and beloved Broncos because they're out of contention, I root for excellence. For great games. For legendary performances. If nothing else, I root for outstanding efforts.

Competition which results in only one winner can be brutal. The old saying for those who come in second is that they are the 'first loser' (which makes no sense, because technically they are the LAST loser, but, whatever.) People forget who took second in most competitions. When was the last time you thought about Mondale or Dukakis? Losing in a winner takes all competition puts a beating on self-worth, momentum, and motivation. The focus goes to the result, instead of the journey.

Any journey, regardless of the result, can be excellent. Just ask Bill & Ted.

Your most important journey, fortunately, isn't winner take all. Your LIFE is not a zero-sum game. You aren't competing with anyone else, unless you choose to be competing. Your happiness, your success, your excellence -- doesn't need to be compared to anyone else in the world, as long as YOU are satisfied. Satisfied doesn't mean settling, mind you. No participation trophies here. 

Satisfied means you've defined your own victories, and protected them against the expectations of others. Satisfied means taking pleasure in your own progress and production, celebrating it, and using the your personal victories today to push you toward more personal victories tomorrow. Without allowing the outside world to tell you you haven't achieve anything, haven't arrived, and need to just lay low until you reach THEIR definition of success, their mountaintop, their victory.

Who are they to define you? Who are they to determine your effort, your excellence? They only have power when you pass it over to them - be it in open competition, the workplace, a relationship - your success is your choice, unless you let it be their choice

You can choose to WinAnyway, and celebrate today to prepare for continuing tomorrow. Even if you take a step back, even if technically you LOSE, you can find your own victories in your own journey. You can celebrate your moments of excellence.

Cyril Junior Dim is the 2022 World Champion of Public Speaking. The contest started with roughly 30,000 people competing, including me. That makes 29,999 losers. Some lost quickly, some lost eventually, a few lost at the last possible moment. But all had the opportunity to show excellence - and regardless of how it stood up against the excellence of others, or the judgments of those called to sift through the speakers in search of their subjective choice of the best - they each achieved something worth celebrating.

By choosing to WinAnyway, you can focus on excellence, versus competition. Perhaps your excellence will lead to you winning some sort of contest against thousands of others. Cool, if it happens. But your excellence is personal. When you put your excellence in the hands of others, it may be minimized or even invalidated. Which is why you have to protect it. Recognize it. Protect it. Use it for tomorrow.

And always....Root for it.


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