Be Self-Confident Even When You Don’t Feel Like It!
(click below to view the video or read on if you’d prefer!)
Do you remember Luke Skywalker training with Master Yoda in the fifth episode of Star Wars, the one called ‘The Empire Strikes Back’? They are on the planet Dagobah which is covered with swamps. Luke is standing upside down – on one hand only and Yoda is actually perched on top of one of his feet. R2D2 watches nearby and shows he’s impressed by emitting his whistle sounds of appreciation. Luke is using the Force to pile stones on top of each other and he even starts to lift his X-wing aircraft out of the swamp in which he landed it. And then… Luke falls, the stones roll off and the X-wing sinks back into the water. “We’ll never get it out now!” says Luke, clearly deflated. Yoda sighs and replies: “Always with you it cannot be done”.
How about another memorable scene – actually two. First, the one when Darth Vader chokes Admiral Motti who dared pooh pooh the Force, calling it “your sad devotion to that ancient religion”. “I find your lack of faith disturbing” counters Vader in his cavernous voice…. And the other scene I have in mind is when Vader says “You have failed me for the last time Admiral” as he remotely, yes remotely!, strangles Admiral Ozzel (I am still amazed that the Force lets you asphyxiate someone in another location…)
Whereas Luke dropping the stones and the X-wing was a case of too little Force, Darth is a case of too much Force. What we want in life is the right amount of Force, not too light but not too dark either…
But why am I reminiscing about Star Wars? What does Star Wars have to do with success at work? Well, It is because Star Wars tells us about learning to be self-confident even on those occasions when we least feel like it. In this post, I am beginning a two-parter on self-confidence.
Self-confidence during delicate moments with family and friends is sometimes hard to find. At work, it is often challenging to stand up for oneself. And unfortunately, every occasion we miss to be self-confident can impact the perception of our performance as well as slow our career down. I was lucky enough to be a child when the Star Wars trilogy came out and Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Obi Wan Kenobi but also Darth Vader all made very strong impressions on me.
You see, I often felt like Luke. I too often thought “it cannot be done” when I wanted to tell my Mom something and yet didn’t dare. Or I didn’t find the right words to explain something important to my Dad. Or when instead of getting along, I ended fighting with my brother.
Later on, at work, I often felt anxious about approaching my boss. Do you know what that feels like: being nervous to walk up to a colleague, especially a senior manager, not to mention your line manager…? What do you do then? Do you end up doing nothing? You’re just too tongue-tied… Do you feel your palms go all sweaty? Your heart racing? Is it too much? Do you think: “better let it go”?
Another situation when I resorted to the Force: when I needed to say ‘no’. Can you relate to that experience: your manager asking you to do something when your workload is already very heavy? To stay late when you planned to attend your son’s school play? To come in at the weekend when you have friends coming round? How do you say ‘no’ without jeopardizing that crucial rapport with your boss? Have you felt powerless to say ‘no’? Would like to learn how to say ‘no’ the right way?
The two examples I’ve just mentioned are about situations when we lack in self-confidence but what about the other way round? Too much of a good thing, even the Force, is too much, isn’t it? Can you think of times when you indeed stood up for yourself, when you thought you had expressed yourself forcefully and… it back-fired! Not only you didn’t get what you wanted, but the other person seemed mad at you, you had the feeling you came on too strong. In fact, it would appear that you made the situation worse! Did you have a Darth Vader moment?
Have you noticed that your self-confidence tends to come and go? It fluctuates. Like Luke, one moment the stones are nicely piled up, you’ve got Yoda sitting on your foot and R2D2 whistling with admiration. And the next, it’s all gone. You feel empty. Small. Or you feel angry. Frustrated. You wish you could choke the other person – but because you’re not Darth Vader, Thank God you can’t!
Either way, when the Force is not with you, it’s not great. You can’t think straight. You feel uncomfortable. You wish you could always find the right words and keep your nerves in check. You wish you knew how to influence your boss, your manager, your partner, your friend…
If I could show you how to access your self-confidence even in those circumstances when you don’t naturally feel self-assured, by helping you control your nerves, organise your thoughts and find the right way to come across to the other person, would that be helpful to you?
If you think so, then I invite to join me next month when I will be sharing with you tips on how to harness your self-confidence for these difficult conversations we all dread. I will share with you a very simple 3-step model to approach delicate talks.
Until then, remember to “Use the Force, Luke”!
Let me know what you think by dropping me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!