Hello my friend,
Confidence is something most people crave. Confidence is an illusive ‘character’ who resides in the mind, yet there are specific ways to show it and grow it. The other day while unpacking my books, I came across one I didn’t recognize. It was a book of poems by several college students, including my gifted nephew Eric Whalen.
While looking through the book, the poem “Confidence” caught my eye. As luck would have it, Eric was its author and gave me permission to share part of it with you today. When you read it, think of the most confident woman you know.
“when she walked, she swung her arms wide,
out and away from her body
and they rotated like dual pendulums.
keeping her forward motion moving, and so
a large area of space suspended around her body
which no body could penetrate.
“…she stepped definitely on purposefully chosen
patches of ground in front of her, reserved for her feet.
determination in any direction
and you made no mistake guessing which way
she was going….”
Eric captured perfectly the way a confident woman moves forward with purpose, and takes HER space on the path with neither anger nor apology. The vividness of Eric’s poem reminds me of the day my voice coach, Dr. Ralph Hillman told me to stand up and walk for him. Walk? What does that have to do with my voice? What he could see, but I didn’t know yet, was my “potential” for walking with more confidence.
Dr. Hillman, professional speaker since the age of fourteen and former college professor gives us three exercises to test his theories. I encourage you to actually do these exercises, rather than just read about them. That way, you will feel the difference for yourself. The first has to do with your stride:
- “Walk thirty (30) steps using short steps. On a sheet of paper, write how you feel. Turn that paper over. Then, walk thirty (30) steps using long strides, stretching to make them even longer. Now write how you feel and compare notes.”
Could you feel the difference? The small steps remind me of the way Chinese women of the past, with bound feet, were forced to walk. We are fortunate to be living in a different time and place, but for some reason, we don’t access our full walking potential.
Dr. Hillman also suggests two other ways to test our confidence:
- “Sit at a table with shoulders rolled forward for a minute or two. Take pen in hand and write down how you feel right now. When finished writing, turn that piece of paper over. A few minutes later while seated, pull your shoulders back and straighten your back; now write on another sheet of paper how you feel. Compare your notes.”
- “Early in the morning with pen and paper ready, as you put your feet on the floor, in a soft breathy voice say: “Today is going to be a great day!” (You may need to repeat this a couple of times). Write how you feel. Crawl back into bed and get out again. As your feet hit the floor in a strong loud voice say: “Today is going to be a great day!” Write how you feel and compare notes.”
Dr. Hillman explains, “In the first instance with your posture, stride and voice quality your actions are giving information to your body and brain. Words like hesitant, unsure, passive, pessimistic, are very real in describing how you feel about yourself.
“In the second instance of each of the posture, stride, and voice quality exercises words like strength, eagerness, courage, optimistic are more likely to come to mind. These kinds of messages to your body and brain give you confidence.”
Based on your own experience with these exercises, do you agree? You may be interested in knowing that Dr. Hillman describes all ten of his voice qualities in his book, Delivering Dynamic Presentations and also through seminars and keynote speeches.
I’ve found, through self-exploration and coaching others, that it’s possible to unknowingly pick up habits that erode our confidence, but we file them under the category, “This is just the way I am,” not realizing that we can make a different choice.
I invite you to experiment with the strength of your voice, posture and stride in everyday life and watch your confidence grow. Wouldn’t it be great to be the woman in Eric’s poem who, steps purposefully knowing exactly which way she’s going?
May your self-trust build confidence,