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Confidence is . . . turning thoughts into action

Confidence is . . . turning thoughts into action

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are the authors of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know.

They argue that while confidence is partly influenced by genetics, it is not a fixed psychological state. You won’t discover it by thinking positive thoughts or telling yourself (or your children) that you are perfect as you are. You won’t find it either by simply squaring your shoulders and faking it. But it does require a choice: less worrying about people-pleasing and perfection and more action, risk taking, and fast failure.

During a recent CBC radio interview, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman introduced one of the best definitions of confidence I have heard so far: Confidence is turning thoughts into action. That’s it.

If we adopt a simple philosophy of focusing on one project at a time [note to self] and take risks, make mistakes, the daily practice of turning thoughts into action begins to build a body of work.

Of course, within that body of work, there will be failures. But also successes that we can lean on to nudge us forward with more confidence as we embrace the next challenge.

Consider Richard Branson or Elon Musk. They have created so many projects that are very successful. Turning their thoughts into action involves looking back at previous successes [and failures] and learning from the past. Their previous successes creates a cascading effect that builds their confidence and also the confidence of their supporters and sponsors.

Richard Branson tells us in his book, Screw it, let’s do it, that he doubted himself only once, when his bank said they were going to pull the plug on Virgin. His advice is, “Although I listen to everyone, I make up my own mind and just do it.”

Elon Musk recalled how close he came to failure with Space X. He personally financed Space X for their first three launches. Each of the launches failed. After scraping enough money together for a final fourth launch, Musk said, “I was so tense that when it succeeded I didn’t feel elation – just stress relief.”

Musk and Branson are shining examples of people who turn their thoughts into action. One of the secrets to making things happen is eloquently summed up by author and thought-leader, Seth Godin: “In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn’t necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it.”

I am currently reading Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit. Since graduating from Barnard College in 1963, Ms. Tharp has choreographed more than one hundred sixty works: one hundred twenty-nine dances, twelve television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines.

According to Tharp, creativity [and confidence] boils down to having productive work habits that are followed day in, day out. Without a regular routine, our actions can be haphazard and our creativity and confidence falters.

Twyla Tharp’s confidence comes from small daily actions like showing up for gym at 5:30 each day for the last 20 years. The act of hailing the cab each morning to take her to the gym – turning her thoughts into action – gets her into one of many routines each day that contribute to her sense of well-being and ultimately her confidence.

Most successful authors and artists will attest to the fact that they love it when the muse enters the room, but most of the time it’s sticking to a routine designed to turn thoughts into actions that breed success and build confidence.

Twyla Tharp faces an empty room each day. As her dancers come up the stairs for the rehearsal, she is quietly confident, based on past experience, that she will turn the day into a success.

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are on to something. If we want more confidence (and more fun), we need to worry less and convert more of our thoughts into actions.

Dene Rossouw Dene Rossouw

Learning Coach at team Possibil.

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