You think I joke... ha! But 2 minutes is what it took me to realise that I didn't have to be a slave to my lack of confidence... plus 20 minutes to listen to this talk by Amy Cuddy.
It was a spring day and I was working as a high flying Strategy Consultant at one of the most reputed firms in the world. That afternoon, I had a client presentation. I was presenting my work to the senior stakeholder who held a position in the board of one of the world's largest asset management companies. I had done the homework and was extremely qualified to present my results... bonus: I had a singing and dancing dashboard that I knew that the client would fall in love with. I prepped for the meeting on how to introduce myself and ran through the agenda with my Partner twice and she was confident that I'd rock the meeting.
It was 4 PM, time to meet Mr. Bigshot who actually is one of the sweetest clients I had ever worked for. We walk into the room, I set up my equipment and take him through my shiny presentation and dashboard. It's going well... he comes close to the screen, his eyes lit up. "Wow!! If only we could have this for every board meeting!" We are close to making an on-sell... and the client loves what we've done! He's curious about timelines and how long we would take to get him an initial cut of that work... suddenly I go mum.
In my head I say, "Damn! How did I not practice being so good that we'll have an on-sell?" while my Partner looks at me awaiting an answer. I mumble, "I can scope up something... It could be a month or 6 months depending on what you're looking to achieve." - a perfectly valid answer... if only I hadn't murmured. And from that point forward, we ended up on the back foot, so much so, that my Partner ended up sharing this Ted Talk with me.
I didn't listen to it for months! And then, one day I did. It changed my entire perception of confidence. I used to always tell myself that whatever it be, I am a shy and introverted person and I can't ever be as charismatic as these naturals. In 20 minutes Ms. Cuddy destroyed the story that I had been feeding myself - a story that held me back. I had always thought my confidence comes from me practicing what to say before a meeting. Hence, if I hadn't practiced what I had to say, I'd completely freak out and shut up in high stake situations, to the complete disappointment of my managers but mostly, myself! I needed to correct this for ME... Ms. Cuddy taught me the science of confidence, i.e. hormones. Men are more confident because of the testosterone. And we can trick our systems to manage the outcome...!
This was novelty because after that, I didn't even need the super-woman pose. Just knowing that hormones affect confidence made me confident... you know why? Because suddenly it cut through the noisy story that I had constructed to hold me back. "I am a shy and introverted person who can't be charismatic!" In those 20 minutes that script was shattered and I couldn't find another one to hide behind. Since then I've had direct reports tell me, "Oh I can't be as charismatic like you!" and I have laughed and pointed them towards the Amy Cuddy Ted Talk.
Some times in life, it's not even about the science and the hormones- it's about realising that you have been feeding yourself a self-destructing story which is completely untrue. And the moment you realise that, you're set free... My question to you today is, have you, like me, been telling yourself a story that you can't be a naturally confident person like other people because of X, Y, Z? Tell me about what scripts limit your confidence and let's solve this together...