In preparing for my latest book and program, I surveyed 100,000 people and asked them all the same question. “What do you want out of life?” By far and away, the #1 answer was “I just want to be happy.”
That’s fine. But there’s one gigantic problem with that answer. You will never be happy if you’re missing the pre-requisite to happiness … the pre-requisite of self-confidence.
If you don’t like yourself, if you don’t have enough self-esteem and self-respect, if you don’t have enough inner strength, you can (and probably will) chase happiness in a hundred different ways and never find it.
That’s the bad news.
But the good news is you can have all the confidence you need. You can build it, nurture it, and maintain it. Here are a few things I teach in my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience.
► 1. Don’t look back at your past mistakes for too long.
I was reminded of this strategy a few years ago when I was visiting my sister who lives on the beautiful tropical island of Jamaica. I could see why she chose it as her second home as it is a place lush with vegetation, mountains, and turquoise waters.
Nonetheless, as I was walking through a hotel lobby, I saw an old map hanging in the hallway. Across a remote, uninhabited part of the island I saw some faint lettering going across that part of the map.
I struggled to make out the words. I eventually did. It read, “The Land of Look Behind.”
Intrigued, I asked the hotel owner what that meant. He said in the days of slavery, the runaways from the sugar plantations sometimes escaped into that lonely barren territory. They were often pursued by slave owners with guns and dogs. He said the fugitive slaves, who were always on the run, kept looking over their shoulders. So that’s where the term, “The Land of Look Behind,” came from.
I never forgot that phrase… because my years of speaking to and coaching people have led me to believe that many people live in their own private land of look-behind. They keep dwelling on the mistakes they’ve made in the past. And the fear of making more mistakes keeps them stuck in the past rather than reaching out for a bigger and better future.
Other people dwell on the things they could’ve done or should’ve done. They dwell on the bad things that have occurred in their past or the nasty things people have said.
If that sounds like you, STOP IT! Don’t live in the land of look-behind. That will destroy your self-confidence and hoped-for happiness.
► 2. Watch what you say to yourself.
When you ask most people the simple question “How are you?”, most of them will reply with an innocuous “Fine.” And that is fine for everyday small talk.
But it’s not okay to keep on telling yourself everything’s okay when it’s not. If you want to build an unshakeable confidence, you must be willing to make an honest self-appraisal.
Take a look at your outsides. Do you look discouraged, or do you look self-assured? Your physical appearance reflects and affects your self-confidence. If you improve one, you will improve the other.
The strange thing is many people look confident and composed on the outside, but they’re insecure on the inside. They’re filled with self-doubt. And that’s serious. Decades ago, Dr. Charles Mayo said, “I never knew a man to die of overwork, but I have known men to die of doubt.”
Then take a look at your insides. Do you feel confident or is your mind filled with worries? Are you telling yourself that you’re going to make it? Or are you telling yourself you don’t know how you’re going to make it? There’s a huge difference in the outcome you’ll receive. You must learn to tell yourself such things as “I’m going to make it — no matter what.”
In my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program, I go into great detail on what you need to say to yourself, when you need to say it, and how long you need to say it to get the confidence, happiness and results you want.
► 3. Walk your talk.
You can’t say one thing and do another and feel good about yourself. I know. I tried to do that for years and failed miserably.
I couldn’t say, for example, that my kids were important to me but never be home to spend any time with them … and feel good about myself. I couldn’t say that my church and various missions were important to me but never support them with any of my money … and feel like a genuinely honest, integrity-filled human being.
To have lasting confidence and happiness, you must be able to look at yourself in the mirror without feeling like a hypocrite. As I tell my executive coaching clients, “Confidence on the outside begins by living with integrity on the inside.”
Walk your talk. That means tell the truth. Honor your commitments. Stick to your values. Stand up for what you believe. Don’t be bullied into silence by somebody else’s version of cancel culture.
Just remember. When you walk your talk, you won’t always be popular. Some people won’t like you. So be it.
Don’t confuse popularity with happiness. Popularity is when OTHER PEOPLE like you. Happiness is when YOU like yourself. As I told my 3M audience recently, “The reward for conformity is everyone likes you but yourself.”