by Daniel Kingsley
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”
I was coaching an extremely bright and accomplished young professional the other day. She was practising a pitch for work of her best qualities. In many ways it was absolutely great, yet something didn’t feel right. Somehow her message was getting undermined by something in the way in which she delivered it. I found myself thinking “I believe what you’re saying, but I’m not sure that you do”.
In her delivery, it was as if she was asking us, as the audience, to confirm what she was saying was true. She appeared to be looking to us for reassurance, and in doing so she undermined her simple message: “These are the things that I think make me really good at what I do”.
My critique hit home with her when I shared it. She said that she often had the sense that she wasn’t being convincing when she was trying to persuade others of her point of view. This obviously raised the next question – “OK. So what do I do about it?”.
Get behind yourself
My short answer to her was that she needed to “Get behind herself.”
To get behind yourself is very different from “believing in yourself”. When people try to believe in themselves they usually picture themselves in their mind’s-eye and try to imagine themselves as great, confident or wonderful. And it doesn’t usually work. This is because it is based in imagination, rather than reality. And deep down we know this.
Trying to “believe in ourselves” sets up an inner conflict between our inner critic (the voice in our heads that tends to say that we’re useless) and our inner cheerleader (the one that does it’s best to put the opposite point of view). And inner conflict isn’t a great recipe for confidence.
Getting behind yourself is different. It’s based on the truth. Your truth.
What do you actually believe?
Getting behind yourself isn’t done once and for all. It’s done moment by moment – this moment. You connect with it by finding your answer to the question “what do I know right now?”. What do I truly believe? What do I really care about? What matters to me? Take as long as you need to answer those questions – it may take some soul searching. And when you connect with the answers feel that connection with what you’ve discovered.
If you want other people to care about what you’re saying, you need to connect with the place in you where you really care about it. You can’t ask your audience to care more than you do in that moment. And if you want your audience to believe, you really need in that moment to find that place inside you where you believe.
Coming…Ready or not!
When kids play hide and seek there’s often a moment when the seeker finishes counting and they shout to the hider – “Coming! Ready or not!” That needs to be your attitude when you are delivering a message to an audience that you want to move them. Your attitude needs to be: “This is where I stand. This is what I know. This is what matters to me…Regardless of what you may think. Regardless of whether you agree with me or not. Regardless of whether those things matter to you”. Confidence comes from being willing to stand in your truth and declare it in a way that is telling not asking. You’re not necessarily telling them how it is, but you are telling them how it is for you.
This isn’t the same as being indifferent to the audience’s response. Nor is it the same as being closed to anyone else’s point of view. It is simply being willing to own your truth as your truth. And it’s something that all the most persuasive speakers are willing and able to do.
It is a courageous thing to stand in public and declare, “this is what I believe”. It takes courage because it feels vulnerable. It feels vulnerable because others may disagree. It feels vulnerable because they may tell you they disagree. And perhaps that might hurt or be confusing.
And yet it’s worth the risk because you get the greatest prize of all, you get to stand in your integrity. You get to feel the power and confidence that only comes from within. You get to meet the world as an equal. And that’s priceless.