I try to be more like Austin Powers rather than James Bond. Loosen up instead of trying to always be validated by everyone around.
Do you always seem to have a sudden burst of confidence and energy only to be discouraged by an avalanche of dis-empowering beliefs about yourself in the immediate two minutes? Every time you want to learn a new skill, meet new people or try something new, by the time you are leaving your house do you convince yourself that you just don’t have what it takes?
I have good news for you. It’s not your fault. And yes, it can be fixed. You just need to be more like, hmm…
You guessed it! Austin Powers. And less like James Bond.
For the next couple of minutes, I need you to look at the following ideas and see beyond the ‘façade’ or the artificial image of “what you should be” and follow the underlying messages of “who you actually are”.
There are two types of confidence triggers out there.
One is the exterior trigger. This is portrayed by having high status, brilliant career, money, expensive cars, a huge mansion, being popular in high school etc. As long as you have these elements, you feel good about yourself or, at least, this is what you project to others.
The second one is inner confidence. Basically, it means that no matter in what situations you are put in: being rejected, failing, becoming homeless, being ugly, being fat, being fired from your job, being made fun of; your inner balance and grit will remain untouchable. You just bounce back better and stronger.
The first type of confidence is grown by surrounding yourself with shiny things. If we take that you have nothing. That’s why some people work really hard to make sure no one takes those things away. The second one is grown by actually going through the experiences mentioned above and making you understand that they are phases, that everyone is flawed and that in order to make some diamonds you have.
Let’s look at our two protagonists. Both are super spies. Both save the world. But one seems like a buffoon and the other one seems so mysterious and manly. And here is where your problems start:
You try to copy the image of the cool guy without ever risking being a buffoon.
And of course, why should you? When everywhere around the social media you hear about these people that just seem to have been amazing by default.
You are too busy adding shiny things around yourself aka “the perfectly tailored clothes, the perfect walk, the perfect voice, the perfect gaze, the perfect answer, the perfect comeback, the perfect advice, the perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect car” instead of focusing on trying something new, exploring, making mistakes and allowing yourself to fail, over and over again until “Embarrassment” becomes your middle name and you finally find out what works for you and who you are.
I talked with a friend recently who told me the following: “I hate those awkward silence breaks you have in the middle of the conversations and you just don’t know what to do or say, you want to run away before it gets, even more, uncomfortable.” Then he continued: “I wish I was more like James Bond. Have you seen how he holds his stance when he talks, how he pierces people’s eyes, how he always knows how to lead with the wittiest arguments and answers?”
This is exactly what is stopping you from being great. When you hit a certain critical moment you overthink everything x10 times. “What should I say. How can I impress? What is the most charming thing I could say? How can I give a really smart answer?”. There is always a pressure to be someone you are not, yet. You ask yourself how can you be more like James Bond when in reality you should ask how can you be more natural like Austin Powers, risk being a buffoon but actually building you into an interesting individual based on the experiences you lived instead of being perceived as perfect by social pressure.
If you allow yourself to be proven wrong, you will learn. If you allow yourself to be rejected, you will improve. If you allow yourself to goof around once in a while, you will relieve stress. If you allow yourself to make mistakes, you will grow. If you put yourself out there through the awkward conversations, the silent moments, the failed projects, the broken hearts, the job rejections, you will reach where you need to be.
You might not be the most popular kid on the block, but the quality of people you will finally end up with will be invaluable.
The coolest thing about Austin Powers is that he seems to live in his own bubble. With the ladies, he acts like he is the world’s most attractive man. Even if he doesn’t know how to use a gadget he acts like he invented it, eventually blowing something up by mistake. While being captured by his villains he always seems to have a hidden backup plan in the silliest situations.
However ridiculous he might be, he does one key thing:
He does not dis-empower himself, never.
Be weird, be different, be yourself.
There is a quote from Dale Carnegie’s book called “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” that I really love:
“Two men looked out from prison bars,
One saw the mud, the other saw stars.”
One sees only where he is, the other sees where he could be. In order to reach the stars, sometimes you need to crawl through the mud.
I would use the same comparison to ask you this:
Which superspy do you do you want to be?
The poster boy or the squeezed rock?