In my last blog, I talked about building confidence by figuring out what you’re good at. But what do you do after that? You can be the best person in the world at something, but if you don’t present yourself that way, you’re not going to feel any more confident. I’ve found that the most effective way to translate that inner feeling of confidence to the people around you is to find someone to emulate.
We all know someone who oozes natural confidence, even if they’re not that special. They’re not particularly good looking, they’re not overly charismatic, they’re not rich, but they carry themselves in a way that screams “I’m comfortable with who I am.”
Wouldn’t it be great to be like that?
Well, why not try it on for size? That’s what I did. I met someone who projected the type of confidence I wanted to have and modeled myself after them. As if I was an understudy to a great actor, I watched what he did, what he said, his mannerisms, and how he presented himself to people. I saw that he went out of his way to say hello, to ask how people were doing, and to follow up with them over time. I watched how he did what he did, and practiced doing the same thing in my own conversations.
In my situation one of the things that made modeling so easy and natural is that the person I was emulating had no real advantage over me. I could relate to them. They weren’t intimidating to me; they were just someone who was doing what I wanted to do. And that’s what makes modeling such an accessible way to gain confidence. We all know someone who has traits we wish we had. There’s always someone you can model a part of yourself after.
In today’s sharing culture, explicitly reaching out to someone to let them know you’re modeling them is becoming the norm. Think of how flattered you’d be if someone came up to you and said, “I really admire you and I’d love to ask you more about what you do. Could I take you out for coffee sometime and learn a little more about your process?”
Of course, people are pretty busy these days, so if the person you ask to model turns you down or you don’t get a response, it doesn’t mean anything. You didn’t mess up, and it’s not that they don’t like you. But the simple act of reaching out can boost your confidence and put you in a position to grow.
When you emulate someone, you liberate yourself from your identity. It doesn’t matter how quiet, introverted, or unconfident you feel. If you walk into a room and pretend to be the most popular person there, you’ll start to feel it. It will influence the way you present yourself and the way you interact with others. Over time that confidence will build and carry over into other situations.
I can’t overemphasize how valuable the practice of modeling has been to me over the course of my career (and my life). Try it on for size – you may be surprised by how much it makes you grow.