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.
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).
We would achieve much more if we got out of our own way. The difference between the top athletes and the rest is not better physical ability, but an ability to avoid talking themselves into failure at the key moments.
Performance = Potential – Self-Sabotage
I remember Peter Allis commenting on golf years ago. A South African golfer was on the tee. Peter whispers into the microphone “This is the perfect specimen of a golfer… (pause)… big hands… and dumb”.
Thinking too much is not good for performance in the big moments. It might help you learn faster from practice, but you have to find a way to switch it off once the real deal begins.
The lottery is easy. It is not certain, but it is easy.
Many choose an MBA because it feels certain. It is not easy, but it feels certain. Once you’ve got the diploma on the wall… success is inevitable…
There is a spanish word “chollo”. “Un chollo” is a something valuable that you achieve for little cost.
The danger of searching for the Chollo
There is a story about Toyota. Back in the 1980s they implemented an employee suggestion scheme. It was left to each country to decide how to motivate employees to provide improvement ideas.
Toyota USA rewarded outcomes
In the US, the senior management debated and discussed. They decided they would offer employees 2% of the total value of the suggestion once implemented. Wow. This could be big bucks! 2% of a suggestion that cuts $1M in cost from the production line? Take home $20,000. Nice.
The employees liked this idea and spent hours thinking about big changes, big suggestions. On average Toyota USA received 2 suggestions per employee, and about 10% were implemented. I don’t know what the total value of these changes were.
Toyota Japan rewarded process
In Japan, the senior management debated and discussed. They decided they would offer employees a straight up-front payment of $50 for every suggestion.
Employees liked this concept. They didn’t spend too much time thinking, but identified lots of little, incremental, simple changes that steadily improved performance in the factories. On average Toyota Japan received 50 suggestions per employee, and about 60% were implemented.
18 months later the performance at Japanese factories had increased so dramatically that they took all the changes and began to implement them around the world, and in the USA.
What happened? The Japanese employees were looking for simple little suggestions that made life 1% easier. The Americans were looking for the chollos: the big value suggestions.
Incremental improvement always wins in the long run.
Excellent Pottery design
A story from Derek Siver goes that a ceramics teacher told half the class that they would be graded on the total weight of pottery they created during the term; the other half of the class was told they would be graded on one piece of pottery. The weight students produced pot after pot after pot; experiments, prototypes, random ideas, and some magnificent pieces. The quality students spend a lot of time talking about concepts, thinking through ideas, developing a plan… and waited til near the end to actually get their hands on some clay. All of the best pots came from the weight-graded half of the class.
Incremental improvement always wins in the long run.
Could you set up an online business that earns you €50 per month? Could you import a product and find stores to stock it that gave you €50 a month? Could you write an eBook on “how to develop a career in your industry” and sell 10 a month at €5 per download?
In your life are you looking to add 1% per month or are you looking for the chollo? Warning: chollos almost never come… even to win the lottery you have to do some work: buy the ticket, check the ticket, file your claim…
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.