This is a guest post by Armen Shirvanian.
To get into a state of feeling winning confidence, you need to form a foundation of successes for that confidence to lean on. A person who feels hesitation or weakness to implement a plan, or to ask for something, would be smart in building up a package of successes, of any size, and then conquering their desired mission.
You can get to a point where you feel nearly invincible, as I do at times in public, by adding another success, and another, until you start to feel like you are meant to take the biggest risks. Although I agree with the concept behind “fake it until you make it”, the concept I am presenting here is more about making it small, over and over, until you can’t help but make it big.
Piano Playing Example
The focus here is to build up your confidence. Let’s say you are nervous about playing piano in front of a larger audience than you normally play to. This method would then work for you. You can boost your confidence to a level where the audience will be more than manageable, by creating a package of successes.
Maybe you are fearful about the audience as a whole, but are more than glad to talk with other piano players. What you then want to do is start becoming more social and connected with the other piano players you hear or know of, or who will also be at your big event, until you feel like the whole scenario is a small item to you. By doing this, you are not removing the source of the fear, which is the audience, but are building your confidence up over that level, rendering the fear unable to grip your thoughts.
This technique is very powerful, but takes a lot of effort on your part. The main foundation-building in the example I provided is the talking and interacting with other piano players. This could take a lot of time and effort, but it is the only way to overcome your fear threshold using this method, which is all it is for.
Research Position Example
Let’s say you were, or are, a student wanting to get into a research position with one of a few professors. It may be the case that you are not applying to a position because you aren’t sure if you can handle it, or if you will be accepted, and so you postpone the attempt out of fear of potential rejection or incompetence. This is another example where you can build up ample confidence to overcome the threshold of this fear.
One way to do this would be to start to get to know other student researchers who work with the professors you might want to work with, and find out what they specifically do. This is less intense than directly applying for a position, and gets you some headway into the process. You could start to get know one student researcher after another until you are so involved with many of them that they start trying to influence you to join. Each extra success you make in connecting with a person doing something you are interested in brings you a step closer to taking the action you weren’t ready to take(for one reason or another).
Another way to build up successes in this example would be to start reading research papers. You could set a goal to read a research paper every day until you asked a professor or two to start working with them. You would learn about new experiments, through some source like PubMed Central, building up confidence due to being directed towards a goal, and would eventually see the fear or worry as unable to hold you back from asking for a position.
Your Successes Don’t Have To Relate To Your Desired Action
While these two examples both involve building up successes in relation to the action you want to build up confidence and energy to perform, this does not have to be the case. You can also build up successes in unrelated activities. You can build up confidence to set up a business deal by taking notes on business books for one hour every day, or you can build that same confidence by approaching and talking to 5 random people each time you go to your local bookstore.
The main thing is to prove to yourself, little by little, that you have what it takes to do larger things. After a certain point of doing enough small things, you will feel like the tough action to take is brought down to a manageable level. Then, it will only be a matter of time before you conquer it.