The first marker of a Modern Gentleman is Confidence.
If you haven’t already read the precursor to this post, The 6 Markers of the Modern Gentleman.
Dictionary.com defines confidence as (in this context) – belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance: His lack of confidence defeated him.
This definition is accurate, but possibly too academic. There is a lot implied with confidence, much inferred and mysterious. (As a side note, ladies love mystery and confidence! You’re welcome.)
People are generally quick to judge others, even without talking to them. The great thing about confidence is it can be seen a mile away. We’ve all seen that person who enters a room and seems to have it all together.
When you see a confident person they come across as the whole package. This is because confidence can be built by a number of ways and a truly confident person is likely to have most of these down pat!
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits calls these “actions” in his post 25 Killer Actions to Boost Your Self-Confidence
However, for someone struggling with self- confidence having just one of these on point makes a huge difference towards making people think “That guy has his shit together!”
This may seem pedestrian and obvious but actually makes a huge impact while being extremely simple to change. Standing up straight with your head held high indicates confidence instantaneously. There is no need to stick your chest out like gorilla; just a simple correction in posture will suffice. Good posture indicates you are comfortable in your own shoes and it makes you more approachable. Conversely hunched shoulders not only convey a lack of confidence it makes you seem uninterested and closed off. The great thing about confidence is, that when you “act as if” you begin to manifest it. Amy Cuddy, social psychologist as well as professor and researcher at Harvard Business School speaks about the “power pose” in her TED Talk titled, Your body language shapes who you are. Doing the “power pose” for just two minutes increases testosterone (the power hormone) and decreases cortisol (the anxiety hormone). So your body language can literally change how your body works!
Lack of confidence is generally accompanied by its ugly step sister. Fear! Fear of what we think (make up) about the future breeds anxiety. The only way to cure that is to take action. In the words of David J. Schwartz “Action cures fear.” The value of putting yourself out there and succeeding, or even failing for that matter, and realising you are not made of glass is incomparable! Let’s take social situations, for example. I have realised that the worst thought I had built up before an interaction would NEVER actually happen. People don’t remember a slightly awkward situation for long, if at all. They have too much going on to dwell on a weird interaction with someone they hardly know. It’s actually somewhat narcissistic to think they would.
Choose your words wisely
A considered approach to what you say goes great lengths to making what you say more valuable. The pause exudes confidence.
“If you’re important they will wait, if you’re not important they will make an excuse.” – Unknown
Taking the time to think about your response to a question says you are comfortable in your own skin, it shows people you are not just waiting for your turn to talk and that you have listened to what they have to say. The rub lies in the fact that you actually need to listen and be engaged. The easiest way to ingratiate yourself with another is to consciously listen and truly be interested. More of this later with engagement.
If you are nervous about something it probably means you are not very comfortable doing it. The bad news is that until you get comfortable, you are always going to be nervous. This is where you need to develop a new skill and skills only come with practice.
Dictionary.com defines practice as (in this context) – repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill of proficiency.
So if repeated performance is required to obtain a new skill you know what that means?! Yes, you have to do what makes you uncomfortable over and over again, trying different things and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Go talk to that colleague, girl or superior you’ve been dreading to. They will never know you exist until you do and you’ll never get comfortable.
Optimism does for confidence what armour does for warriors. A great attitude shields you from the negative and the naysayers. Everyone has the ability to think of something positive. Spend 10 minutes in the morning writing down what you have to be thankful for, what you are good at, what you have achieved, practice meditation. There is no way you will not be able to find, at the very least, a handful of positive thoughts.
If you struggle to come up with anything and wake up feeling deflated no matter what you try this may be a symptom of something else. The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million, worldwide, suffer from depression.
Having a positive outlook does wonders for, not only self-confidence, but life in general. The ability to see the positive allows life to get a whole lot easier. When learning is the only option, mistakes become lessons. Failures become something you tried on your way to success that had to happen to get you there. As James Clear puts it in his article of the same name, Treat Failure Like a Scientist.
Look the part
This may seem like an unimportant action, especially to the uninitiated. Let me tell you a little secret, the way you look determines how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you, especially at first glance. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a month’s salary on a suit. There are some simple ways to look good and feel great.
- Neatness: make sure your nails and hair are cut, your bread is trimmed and neat, your clothes are pressed and your shoes are polished. Simply being neat and tidy goes a long way to making you look the part. It costs nothing except a little extra time and care.
- Clothes: always pick classic styles that have been a staple for as long as you can remember. Fashion changes but class never goes out of style! Dress to your body type, spend some time and actually try things on. Ensure it looks good before parting with your hard earned cash.
We’ve all had those moments when we look in the mirror and think “Daaaamn, I look goooooood” and how that can affect our mood and confidence for the rest of the day. Why not strive for that every day? You will notice a difference and so will those around you.
Confidence is a skill that has to be earned for the majority of us. There will be times when you wake up not feeling particularly great about yourself. Although this happens to all of us it doesn’t have to ruin our day. By practicing these you will be able to control your confidence levels and boost them when they are down.
A gentleman knows that confidence is a skill and has to be cultivated; he knows that life happens and brings challenges that will serve to chip away at it. He knows that his self-perception is most important and nothing or no one can take that away from him. Confidence is affected by the gentleman and that determines how he affects the world.