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We don’t need more confidence. We need to manage our fear.

we-dont-need-more-confidence-image-by-matthew-broomheadHave you ever had a time when you have heard someone say “I wish I had the confidence…“?

If we had more confidence then what would we do differently? Who is the person we would become?

Do we really need “more confidence” or something else?

I heard Seth Godin give this analogy. Most things we do for the first time are not easy. For example, when someone decides to run a marathon they do not ask “how can I run a marathon without getting tired?” We all accept that if we run a marathon we will get tired. So to be a successful runner you have to know where to “put the tired”.

In our careers our “tired” is something else. We have to work out where to “put the fear” of rejection and loss. If we don’t then we will have unfulfilling careers.

So how are confidence and fear related?

Confidence seems to be on a scale with fear. Imagine some scales and on one side is our confidence and on the other side is our fear which for most of us weighs heavier. We think that if we magically have “more confidence” it will metaphorically add to that side of the scale and therefore outweigh the fear.

Instead of adding to the confidence side then what if we were able to take the fear off the scales and put it somewhere else?

The thing is that the fear is initially always there. Whether we call it “fear” or some achieves say they are “stressed” as opposed to “scared” or “fearful”. It is ultimately the same chemical response and feelings. Acknowledging that in the first place can be helpful for us.

Our brains and bodies have been designed to create the fear and for tens of thousands of years it has been useful in keeping humankind alive and very much thriving.

So what are three ways of dealing with the perceived fear?

  1. Do what most people do
  2. Do more stuff
  3. Swap the fear with another emotion

Let us explore these three methods in a little more detail…

1. Do what most people do

What do most of us do when faced with fear? Yes that’s right, we ignore it and go and do something far less rewarding and far less important. We eat something; drink something; watch something; or basically do anything that will help us feel better in the moment. We become proficient at being professional “pausers” and waiting for everything to line up before taking action.

Having coached people that would be perceived by many as high Achievers I understand that all of us have had times when we know that we could have done more. We could have said more; created more and cared more, had it not been for fear.

2. Do more stuff

The more things we try, the more we fail. The more we fail AND learn from it then the more likely we are to succeed. The more success we achieve then the more confidence we seem to have in that particular area of our lives. For this method to work effectively most of us need to start off small with lots of little achievements and build on those.

3. Replace the fear with something else

We humans are feeling creatures (some more than others). My current understanding is that we cannot “get rid of an emotion”, but we can replace it with something else. As long as the emotion replacing the fear/stress is “stronger” or “more powerful”.

For a long time I have had the privilege of successfully working with many people and helping them to decide in advance how they want to feel for important events in their lives. Whether publicly speaking in front of a handful of their colleagues or over 2000 people; passing professional exams; successful job offers after challenging panel interviews and speaking at family funerals.

For most of us these situations would appear to be fearful or stressful. So what someone with my skill set can do is help you decide how you want to feel at the event and then using techniques developed in the 1970’s, consciously trigger those chosen emotions. Therefore “replacing” the perceived feeling of fear with a more empowering and useful emotion.

Whichever of these three methods we want to use is completely our choice. Which ones we actually use will be determined by the answer to the question I asked at the start…

Who is the person you want to become?


Matthew Broomhead
“Raising the level of Business Skills in Britain”
Creator of Broomhead Business Channel

Permanent link to this article: https://www.matthewbroomhead.co.uk/we-dont-need-more-confidence-we-need-to-manage-our-fear/