We are our best selves when we are confident.
Some of the benefits of confidence are the ability to be yourself, possessing greater courage, speaking your mind, feeling good about yourself, staying calm despite unfavorable circumstances, and having greater appeal as a friend or a mate. But there is one thing that’s even stronger than confidence. Fearlessness.
Why Fearlessness Is So Powerful
Fearlessness and confidence are related. If you don’t fear anything, you will naturally be confident, because a lack of confidence is primarily caused by fear of rejection, danger, or failure. So you could say that confidence is a byproduct of fearlessness.
Fearlessness enables people to do unbelievable things like climb skyscrapers, launch their body across the goal line (in football), and most importantly, boldly live their ideal life!
Most people wanting to be more confident will aim directly for confidence, but I think they could have better success by aiming for fearlessness. In many ways, it’s a more direct approach to being more confident. When you try to be confident, you’re attempting to build yourself higher than your fears in a “I can do this” kind of way.
How Fearlessness Becomes Confidence
Imagine you see an attractive person and want to talk to him/her, but you aren’t confident enough. To try to gain confidence at this point is going to be very difficult. Confidence comes from within, so it takes time to improve your baseline confidence. Though there are some in the moment strategies like confident body language that can physiologically increase your confidence. But what if you attempted to conquer your fears as a way to become more confident?
Once you identify your fears, you can find some weaknesses in their “armor.”
First, you’d address your fear of rejection: The person might respond negatively to you. If you ask him/her out, they might say no. He/she could laugh at you and embarrass you. Ack!
However, these rejection scenarios are only scary or embarrassing for like 5 seconds. Can’t you handle that as a worst case scenario? Are you going to let yourself be scared of 5 seconds of awkwardness or discomfort? This applies to any possible rejection scenario, from asking for a raise, to asking for a job, to asking for a girl’s number.
Second, you’d address the fear of failure. The fear of failure is a level above the fear of rejection, and involves longer term evaluation of what the rejection means. You might feel that this one instance of rejection is representative of your general relationship with the opposite sex. You might feel like this person is the ambassador for their gender, and if they vote you out, then all hope is lost. I’ve had this fear before.
The fear of failure can be dissolved with some logic. There are 7 billion people on earth and every single one of us has different tastes and preferences. If you’re a good and honest person, then most people are going to at least like you as a friend. People tend to be irrationally scared of approaching strangers. The logic is that any single case of rejection is just that – a single instance. If you’re willing to keep trying, you’ll find success.
Jia Jiang decided to experience 100 days of rejection to conquer his fears. And he found that most people were nice and receptive to him (a complete stranger), but not all. What if he tried once, got rejected, and assumed that everyone would be that way? He would have held on to false beliefs. In statistics, the sample size is very important. The lower the sample size, the less reliable the data. Why can’t we see that this is true for our lives as well? And why can’t we see that for most things, all it takes is ONE successful result – for marriage, in business, and even investing. Investing in Apple stock in the year 2000 would be enough to overcome the collapse of the rest of your portfolio, as it has increased 80-fold since then!
What Happens When You Remove Fear
When you remove fear, confidence tends to emerge. Confidence is believing in a positive result, while fear is worrying about the potential of a negative result. Once fear of a negative result is gone, it’s easier to believe in a positive result (i.e. be confident).
Fearlessness means nothing is holding you back. 100% fearlessness isn’t healthy though. The L.A. Times interviewed Michael P. Ghiglieri about deaths in the Grand Canyon, and here was one Q&A that shows the consequences of careless fearlessness.
“LA Times: Is it true that somebody once fell to his death in the canyon because he slipped while pretending to fall to his death?
Ghiglieri: Sad to say this is true. In 1992, 38-year-old Greg Austin Gingrich leaped atop the guard wall and wind-milled his arms, playing-acting losing his balance to scare his teenaged daughter, then he comically “fell” off the wall on the canyon side onto a short slope where he assumed he could land safely. As his daughter walked on, trying not to fuel her father’s dangerous antics by paying attention to them, Gingrich missed his footing and fell silently about 400 feet into the void. It took rangers quite a while to locate his body — and to determine that his daughter was an orphan only due to his foolishness.” (source)
The key in life seems to be knowing which fears are healthy and helpful to have (a fear of heights isn’t such a bad thing to have) and which fears simply hold you back (asking a question, trying something new, being embarrassed). Some people’s fear is so crippling that they can’t function normally. Others die because they don’t have enough fear. As with many things, balance is ideal. Be fearful of things that are worthy of your fear, but don’t ever let the word “no” scare you. Don’t ever let it hold you back from pursuing opportunities.
Opportunities only pay off if you’re willing to take them, which you can do by losing your fear and picking up confidence. The next time you’re struggling with confidence, think about what you’re most afraid of, and attack that root. Then you can move forward!