This is a guest post from Emily Matthews. Emily is currently applying to masters degree programs across the U.S., and loves to read about new research into health care, gender issues, and literature. She lives and writes in Seattle, Washington.
Elvis and Self-Confidence
Elvis Presley is a man who radiated sexuality and confidence.
Early interviews show a nervous, timid person
However, early interviews with Elvis Presley show a young man who spends a lot of time staring down at his feet and who seems to have a hard time expressing himself without freezing up with nervousness. It doesn’t take a masters degree to know that something significant had to change. Somewhere between his first record and his comeback tour, Elvis came into his own and developed the swagger and self-confidence that became his trademark.
One possible explanation for this was that Elvis decided to adopt a public persona — one that exuded confidence and kept the real Elvis hidden. Elvis memorized entire passages from James Dean movies, as well as films starring Marlon Brando. Both of those actors portrayed characters that seemed supremely self-confident and it seems quite possible that Elvis decided to emulate those characters when he appeared in public.
Fake it til you make it
The famous saying, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” rings true. In Conor’s post on confidence, the first step is to pretend. When Elvis appeared on stage, it seems as if parts of Dean and Brando had materialized into the way he presented himself. This kind of persona-adoption would have translated from Elvis the performer into Elvis the person.
How can this help out today’s entrepreneurs and businesspeople?
Simple — anyone can take on aspects of a different persona. Naturally, it does not happen overnight, but it definitely can be done. The first step in doing this is understanding what kind of persona the individual is going to adopt. After all, while James Dean might seem to be the epitome of old-fashioned cool, he might not do well in today’s business environment. Look at people around you, and determine what characteristics of theirs you’d like to emulate. Don’t abandon your own personality, but augment it – what makes these people confident, and how can you adopt that?
Be yourself, but amplify the positive
For most people, using a persona that is similar to themselves but has some subtle differences is probably the best way to go. So, if an entrepreneur is shy about approaching strangers, he might imagine himself with confidence and style. Then, before approaching a new client, he might consider going through various “role-playing” scenarios with friends and associates, followed by using real-world experience.
Of course, part of Elvis’ later self-confidence came from focusing on his own natural talent. It is easy to find a form of self-confidence when everyone around a person is singing praises. For an entrepreneur, focus more on what it is that makes a product or service being sold unique. Tap into the passion that originally inspired you, and before you know it, your nervousness will dissipate.
Keep this journey of personal growth going
As more and more people appreciated Elvis, his shyness faded and his fame grew. In the same manner, as entrepreneurs and people in business stick to their vision of achieving success, each step towards reaching that success will help to eliminate some of the shyness — especially shyness caused by not having faith in one’s products or services.
Self-confidence is one of those intangible character traits that sometimes seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere, but the fact is the more a person focuses on what it is that makes what he or she has to offer unique and important, the less time a person will spend on being self-conscious and uncertain. Follow the example of The King, and learn how to swagger with the best of them.
What do you think? Who has positive traits that you might benefit from emulating?
Another way to improve your confidence is regular practice. I have been developing an online module of my Persuasive Communications seminar. It is available here: Improve My Speaking. Feel free to share this resource with friends (and people who need it).
What are your thoughts?