Thursday, April 23, 2015

Book: Confidence by Rob Yeung

This book is unadulterated self-help. The cover and tag line are strikingly naff but the content of the book is actually quite handy. It's all common sense, but as Yeung reminds the reader, 'understanding the principles is not the same as using them.' 



- 'Every man is the architect of his own fortune.' - proverb
- Being scared can't kill you. Think of some scary things that you have done and how they turned out.
- 'Do, Think, Feel'. If you let your feelings get the better of you, it creates a vicious loop that reinforces the negative and drains your confidence.
- Most of us live at such a furious pace that we don't get to ask how we're doing and what we want from life.
- Beliefs are not reality.
- Kick out the inner critic and replace it with an inner coach, a positive inner language.
- ANTs are automatic negative thoughts e.g. I can't do this, I'll never change, etc. When these pop into your head, they influence the 'Do, Think, Feel' cycle.
- "The greatest discovery of my generation is that people can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." - William James, philosopher.
- Decide what you want in life, your values and goals, rather than what seems socially acceptable. True confidence comes from pursuing your own dreams, not those of the people around you.
- This above all else: to thine own self be true. - William Shakespeare
- To help uncover your values, think about how you have felt and acted in different situations. For me, values include challenge, learning, freedom, control, solitude, health, honesty, integrity, kindness, autonomy, personal growth, peace.
- Values drive behaviour. People in history have died for their values; you can at least learn to make better decisions and occasionally say no to people because of yours.
- Action before confidence. Your confidence grows as a result of your actions, not intentions. You have to 'start', in order to become confident.

- Rut busting: Ask what are the advantages of starting x now, what are the disadvantages. What are the excuses, what do you have to lose, and what can you reward yourself with afterwards.
- William James approach: Use positive body language to trigger retrospective rationality and give yourself a confidence boost. Trick your brain into thinking you are a confident person.
- Observe the body language of other confident people.  Think of Superman vs Clark Kent.
- Practice deep belly breathing to relax yourself when needed.
- We all get lazy with our postures. Try to be more conscious.
- Standing tall is not the same as tensing the muscles in your body.
- Smile
- It's easy to laugh when things are going well but it's important to laugh when things are going wrong. ]
- The clothes you wear affect your confidence.
- Eye contact: you typically look at someone for at least 80 to 90 per cent of the time when you're listening, dropping your gaze to around 50 per cent when you are talking.
- Speak slow, low and loud. Think about how others speak.
- Changes feel unnatural at first - you are trying to overcome habits of a lifetime.
- Use more positive language.
- Changing your behaviour is incredibly simple to understand and tough to practice.
- Work on a few things at a time only.
-' If you are going through hell, keep going' - Winston Churchill
- Think STRAIN when you are stressed: Scale (how big a deal), Time (how much of an issue will it be in six months), Response (has it been appropriate so far?), Action (what could you do to improve the situation?), Implications (what could you do differently next time?), Nourishing thought (what positive can you find in the situation?). These questions help you to look forward.
- Make of list of things that make you feel good and boost your confidence (walk outside, gym, music, talk to x, exercise, meditate, etc).  Use these are confidence boosting resources.
- Some people boost your confidence, others sap it.
- Help your work and home space to boost your confidence: e.g. ban sugary snack foods from your cupboards. Your environment is yours to shape.
- Invest in a confidence bank, a work-in-progress repository of your past successes and happy times - use it to fuel your mood and confidence. These are easily forgotten without deliberate refreshing. (consider, Feats, Achievements, Challenges, Triumphs).
- Practice mindfulness to focus on the here and now.
- Adopt positive versus negative views on success. E.g. I deserved to get the job vs none of the other candidates were any good, I did a good job vs I could have done better, etc.
- Be an active listener: most people like to talk about themselves. It can be handy to have a few questions ready to life conversations out of lulls. Have something to say! Give an answer that encourages further questions and discussion vs one word answers. Combine self-disclosure with facts. Don't pretend to be interested. You are there to enjoy yourself as well!
- When you feel nervous you tend to look inward, so focus your attention outwards, on what's going on, to help to diffuse some of the nervous energy.
-  Celebrate milestones.

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