This is part 2 of our series, Becoming a Modern Gentleman. For a better understanding of what a Modern Gentleman is, read part 1.
Self-confidence is a personality trait that is both desired and admired by all. It has long been considered a major key to achieving great things in life. Scores of books have been written on the subject, yet the idea of genuine self-confidence remains an elusive concept. Many people dedicate enormous efforts towards building their self-confidence. However, they often do so without a good understanding of what it really is or where it even comes from.
So how would a Modern Gentleman develop and express his own self-confidence?
Well, he would need to begin by understanding the true definition of self-confidence.
The difference between false confidence and the real thing
Men everywhere try an endless variety of methods to improve their self-confidence. They spend money on sports cars, expensive watches, and the latest fashions. They take supplements, drink protein shakes, and exercise to exhaustion. They even attend seminars, seek therapy, and take dangerous medications in an effort to boost their self-esteem. While these methods can offer temporary improvements to one’s self-confidence, the positive results are often short-lived because they are coming from the wrong place.
True self-confidence can only come from one place. It must come from within.
No one knows you better than you know yourself, so it stands to reason that no external factor can help you improve your own opinion of yourself. Tyler Durden may have said it best in Fight Club:
“You are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet… You’re not your fucking khakis.”
For the younger men out there, I would also add: “You are not the music you listen to. You are not the company you keep. You’re not a hipster, thug, or rocker. You’re an individual, and you shouldn’t be so easy to label.”
So… Who are you?
Building a Sense of Self-Worth
Imagine you were suddenly stranded on an island with a small group of random people. You crawl onto the beach in tattered clothes. All your worldly possessions are gone forever. Your academic and professional achievements are meaningless now. All your previous relationships have been permanently severed. You have nothing left but your health.
Now, picture the first time the group gathers together to start a new society on this island. What would you really have to offer these people? In what ways could you bring value to this new society? How would they measure your worth?
This scenario clearly illustrates where you should be focusing your efforts. If you want to be truly self-confident, you need to have a lot to offer people, even when you’ve been stripped down to your bare essence. You must address this difficult question:
What do you carry inside yourself that can benefit the outside world?
A person will have genuine self-confidence when they can answer that question with a long list of valuable things to offer. So how do you get to that point?
There are several things you can do, but let’s not kid ourselves – This is not some weekend project. This is going to take years. This is one race that has no finish line, and your only opponent is yourself. Now go put your hard hat on, because it’s time to get to work.
Five methods for improving Self-Confidence
1) Make a list of your Personal Accomplishments
Everyone has achieved some worthwhile goals in their lives. Take the time to write down a list of all the things you have achieved that you are proud of. It can be anything – graduating from college, overcoming a difficult obstacle, mastering a complex skill, etc… All too often, we let ourselves forget those times when we really did do something special.
Recalling your existing accomplishments is the quickest and easiest way to improve your self-esteem right now. Go ahead, buddy. Pat yourself on the back. If you’ve achieved something worthwhile, then you deserve it.
2) Determine your Skill Set
This is where things get interesting. Create a comprehensive list of all your skills. If there is something you know how to do, write it down. You can organize your skills under different categories to make the process easier. For example, my own list includes the following categories:
– Academic Interests – (History, Philosophy, Anthropology, etc.)
– Artistic Skills – (Drawing, Photography, Creative Writing, etc.)
– Athletic Skills – (Snowboarding, Rock Climbing, Martial Arts, etc.)
– Domestic Skills – (Cooking, Landscaping, Sewing, etc.)
– Home Improvement Skills – (Power Tools, Drywall Repair, Tiling, etc.)
– Languages – (English, Spanish, French, etc.)
– Musical Skills – (Guitar, Singing, Drums, etc.)
– Professional Skills – (Sales, IT, Hospitality, etc.)
– Social Skills – (Dancing, Telling Jokes, Mixing Cocktails, etc.)
– Survival Skills – (Chopping Wood, Building Fires, Gutting Fish, etc.)
The size of your Skill Set is an excellent indicator of how well you are living your life. Think of it as your résumé, or CV, for life. In fact, the term Curriculum Vitæ can be loosely translated from Latin as “[the] course of [my] life”. If you’ve been living an interesting life and regularly challenge yourself to gain new experiences, then your list should be very long indeed. No matter how long it is, however, you should always be working to add new skills to your repertoire.
Of course, this is not the type of Curriculum Vitæ that should be handed out like a résumé. The purpose of these lists is simply to remind yourself of the things that make you truly worthy of self-esteem.
3) Recognize and celebrate your Natural Talents
Now that you’ve created your Skill Set, it’s time to take a good look at your list and determine which skills you display a natural aptitude for. Every person on Earth is naturally gifted in one area or another. Figure out what your individual talents are and celebrate them! Take the time to devote more energy towards mastering those skills you already have a knack for. Nurturing and developing your gifts will put you on the fast track to authentic self-confidence.
If you’re unhappy with your current profession, recognizing your natural talents can be a great way to determine what you were really born to do. Oftentimes, people waste their lives working jobs they hate because they never took the time to discover their true talents and passions. Determine what you’re good at, and then go do those things! If you practice those skills enough, you will eventually master them.
By following these first three steps diligently, you will be well on your way to developing genuine self-confidence. You will begin to feel the undeniable benefits of walking through the world with the private knowledge that you are a man who has plenty to offer society. However, these first steps are a walk in the park compared to the next two. These next steps require serious discipline and brutally honest self-examination.
4) Acknowledge your Flaws and work to correct them
Congratulations! You have recognized your accomplishments, skills, and talents. Now it’s time to look at the other side; the dark side of your character. It’s time to examine your flaws.
Exploring your personal failures and deficits demands a healthy measure of courage, but it is an incredibly important step to building up your self-worth. If you are afraid to admit that you have problems, then you will never be able to improve yourself. Understanding your shortcomings is the first step towards overcoming them.
Maybe you have a problem with procrastination. Maybe you struggle with overeating. Maybe you keep making the same mistake in social situations. Whatever your problems are, you can overcome them with focused attention and dedication to finding a solution. This will take an inordinate amount of time, but it will all be worth it in the end.
While it might seem counterintuitive, the benefits of acknowledging your flaws can be tremendous. First, you will find that the same discipline and tenacity you dedicate to correcting your negative attributes will help you immensely in developing your positive attributes. Second, understanding that you are an imperfect human being will help you to be more forgiving of other people’s shortcomings. When you finally forgive yourself for being human, you will see the humanity in others, and this will make you a much more compassionate person. Finally, you will discover that your flaws are far outnumbered by the accomplishments, skills, and talents you listed earlier. Good on you!
5) Focus on gaining new experiences and learning new skills
In the immortal words of The Most Interesting Man in the World,
“It’s never too early to start beefing up your obituary.”
Make no mistake, my friends. We are all going to die. That means we have a limited amount of time to maximize our personal potential. There is absolutely no time to waste. Therefore, the final component of developing genuine self-confidence is FOCUS.
You need to focus; embracing a real sense of urgency when it comes to improving yourself. However much you have achieved up until now, you can never give up on trying to be better. Cultivate an insatiable thirst for new experiences. Each new experience you have will not only contribute to learning new skills but can also lead to a wealth of entertaining stories that you can share with family and friends.
With each passing year, your hard work will help you grow into a more well-rounded and confident Modern Gentleman. Speaking of which, there is one last important component to mention.
The Art of Subtlety
As you progress in your journey towards genuine self-confidence, you will discover something very interesting about what it means to embody the Modern Gentleman. You will learn one simple fact about the confidence that will change the way you see people. You will learn that genuine self-confidence is SUBTLE.
When you are confident and self-assured, you will no longer feel the temptation to brag or boast. You will feel cool, calm, and collected; without the feelings of anxiety that would drive you to overcompensate for your insecurities. You will see that bona fide confidence comes only from the way you see yourself, and any efforts to impress other people will seem completely pointless. There is never a need to impress others when you are sufficiently impressed with yourself.
You will also be able to more easily recognize false confidence in others. When you see some guy acting like an asshole or a girl becoming attracted to that asshole, it will be obvious to you that both people lack the maturity to comprehend genuine self-confidence. In addition, you’ll withhold your judgment; feeling heartfelt compassion for their personal struggles with inadequacy.
As you grow, your personality will become something like an onion. The more a person gets to know you, the more interesting layers they will discover. You will possess an inexhaustible ability to surprise people, even those who have known you for a long time. With enough hard work and dedication, you can become a cool and confident Modern Gentleman. All it takes is FOCUS.
The difference between greatness and mediocrity does not come from talent or luck, but from a willingness to suffer more than anyone else to get what you want. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. So how much can you take?