I was reading an interview by Hollywood legend Willem Defoe. In a world as fickle as Hollywood, you can not help but admire the actors that have consistently stayed in the top percentile. Willem Defoe is one of them. In the interview he describes something that can not occur if you ‘fake it’;
“At some point when I do a role, I feel like I’m the only guy to do it. Nobody else should be doing this. You always gotta get to that place where you own it”.
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Owning it requires you to trust in your ability to let go and allow your natural talent to come through. There is the classic story about a spider who asks the centipede how it manages to walk with 100 legs. When the centipede starts to think about it, he falls over. The centipede can walk on 100 legs because it doesn’t think about doing it.
When you think about having self-confidence it is what is occurring outside of your awareness what is important.
Can you imagine how overwhelming it would be to carry your identity in your awareness? As soon as you wake up each morning, you are taking information in via your senses. Initially, all stimuli taken in via your senses (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, gustatory, olfactory) comes into the brain as electrical surges created by long strands called neurons following a particular path. At this stage, they mean nothing because it hasn’t been assigned meaning. This happens later.
What starts the process of creating relevance is when the stimuli is split into certain ‘departments’, specifically evolved to deal with certain stimuli. For example, the cortical area would deal with sensory perception, whereas the visual cortex would deal with stimuli associated with colour, movement and different shapes. The limbic system, which is an area that contain more of the primal areas of our brain such as the amygdala will introduce emotion into the mix. Stimuli will enter into this area very promptly in order to gauge if we need to pay attention to something very quickly, such as someone stepping into the road when we are driving.
Language will enter into the equation as brain regions such as the broca’s and wernickes area communicate with each other and you begin to put words to the emotion and meaning on what you are perceiving or thinking in the moment. Without language you would have no thought, but you would have emotion. So with identity, your identity is ‘stored’ outside of your awareness and it is language and meaning that brings it into your awareness. With stimuli coming in every second, what the brain determines as important is based on your identity and when it has determined what you should pay attention to, language and meaning will bring it to the forefront.
As an example, Richard Branson the successful Billionaire businessman has a motto; ‘screw it, lets do it’. This can tell you that he isn’t afraid to take opportunities when they come and is prepared to take risks. Equally the fact that he is a billionaire with a number of successful businesses will tell you he doesn’t have a laisre-faire attitude to business decision, giving money to every business opportunity that comes his way. He more than likely has a criteria for what he sees as a good and a bad business opportunity. His sensory mechanisms work the same as yours, yet his identity may be different and as a result what you may disregard as risky or not your level of interest, for Richard it might be a quick yes. The very words, ‘screw it, lets do it’ are essentially the statement of his identity and in order for him to say that, what is happening outside of his awareness is what is making the decision.
True self-confidence comes when what is happening outside of your awareness in your mind deems the current context as normal and unthreatening. It can take work for this to be the case, but your mind is changeable and with focus you can be self-confident in anything you put your mind to.
Todays takeaway: Most of what goes into self-confidence comes from processes outside of our awareness. Nurture your brain and you will find confidence becomes something you can own.
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