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— by Alex Rivlin

Shaking in your Boots Confidence!

How can you know nothing or little about a subject and still be confident? It is EASY.

Now, I am sure you are scratching your chin and thinking that makes no sense at all. Just like the line from Anchorman “60 percent of the time it works every time!”

So how can you know extraordinarily little about a subject and be as confident as the top 5 percent?

Let us start with a look into the human brain. While we have the capacity to know or understand a plethora of information there is much that is considered insignificant and it is forgotten as soon as it is no longer of immediate relevance. You have all probably heard the phrase, “it’s like riding a bike”, though the fact is that even when you don’t ride a bike for years, you are not as stable as the last time your rode it. You may remember how, and do okay, but can you ride with no hands, or feel as comfortable as you did when you were riding constantly?

I remember playing Ice Hockey as a youth, and I loved making the shaved ice fly by doing a hockey stop. While I can still ice skate well, I can assure you that without practice I would faceplant hard if I attempted that now. That would be painful for me, and quite the laugh for everyone watching. So, the brain stores relevant information that you are using constantly and disregards the remainder.

Then there is the Amygdala, the part of your brain that controls fear, and when you do not know something fear sets in, leading to insecurity, and ultimately a lack of confidence.

So, what does all of this have to do with being confident even when you lack the knowledge that you feel that you need? It comes down to your narrative and the story you tell yourself. Let’s take a moment and turn this all on its head. We will use the example of a trial attorney. A trial attorney rarely knows the specific cases that will be relevant to the case that they are presenting. Often times, they do not even know exactly how the law applies. Have you seen the volumes of law books in their offices? And, that doesn’t even include the amount of case law that they have to research through resources like Lexis-Nexis. Yet, they are extremely confident in taking a case that they believe has merit, and will even do so on contingency, meaning they do not get paid anything if they do not win.

Are attorneys different? Are their brains different? Insert hundreds of lawyer jokes here… Kidding aside, they are not. What they learn in school is that they do not need to know everything, some are even discouraged from trying to retain so much information. What they are encouraged to do, is to build their confidence in their ability to find information if and when needed. RESEARCH!

Do you have resources to find out the information you need? A mentor? A peer? A parent? A boss? Can you find information on the internet? Through a professional association? Or, by reading a credible book? If so, you should have ABSOLUTE confidence because you either know everything you need to or know how to find it. The caveat to all of this is that you are honest with yourself, and/or the person seeking the information from you. Whether it is your child, friend, client, employee, or anyone else you have two choices. One is to Dazzle them with Brilliance, the other is to Baffle them with Bullshit. What is amazing is the power of the words, “That is a great question, let me do some research and find out” is a way to certainly Dazzle them with Brilliance. No one expects you to know anything, and it actually feeds their ego when they ask you a question that you don’t know off the top of your head, they actually feel more intelligent for not asking a basic question that is commonly asked.

Whether you use affirmations, incantations, meditate on topics, or are just open to new perspectives; I strongly encourage you to fight the fear and replace it with robust confidence because I am sure you have the ability and aptitude to be able to quickly gain all of the information that you don’t know with a quick call, internet search, or reference to your books.

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