0578 – develop confidence

D asks, what is confidence to you and what is the most charismatic thing about a person?

Those are actually two different questions, I think. A confident person isn’t necessarily charismatic, a charismatic person isn’t necessarily confident (but I think typically has to be.) There’s this YouTube channel I really like called Charisma on Command that does great breakdowns of charismatic people, which is a good place to start for thinking about this sort of thing.

What I think is interesting is how much of confidence is manifested in the body. It really goes beyond your thoughts. And because it’s a two-way street between the body and the mind, you can build confidence in the mind by building confidence in the body, and probably vice versa. Martial artists, performance athletes, etc understand this.

Confidence is about trust. It’s about certainty in an uncertain world. It’s about knowing something in advance.

There’s a dark side to confidence – it’s great when things are going well, but it can be a siren song in times when it isn’t justified.

It’s really this huge balancing act. You don’t want to be too cautious to the point of never taking any risks and never doing anything ever, but you don’t want to be so overconfident tha you make bets that you can’t afford to pay.

In both cases, what actually matters is “how much are you really risking”, and “can you afford to lose”? It’s possible to be justifiably overconfident when playing with table stakes that you’re completely confortable losing. And you don’t have to be too cautious if you know that there’s little to no downside to whatever you’re doing.

Charisma is multi-faceted – too much of one particular thing without some sort of balance would turn a potentially charismatic person into a caricature. Conviction is charismatic, unless it gets hideously obsessive to the point where the person doesn’t engage with anybody else. You need to be a listener, you need to read the audience, feed off of their energy, etc. It’s a skillset that can be learnt, and each individual probably has a unique “charisma profile” that can be trained and honed and so on. Again, I’d defer to Charisma on Command for this – that guy really has this stuff well-covered.

I guess I’d like to spend the remainder of this vomit thinking and talking through my own confidence or lack thereof. When I was younger I think I was brash and overconfident. I did well in school as a kid, and so I assumed that I was smart and would always do well withou having to put in any effort. Boy, was I mistaken, and boy was I in for some pain.

Even as I started to mess up my grades in school, I remained cocky. I preserved by ego by convincing myself that I didn’t do well because I didn’t study, and that all I had to do well was to study– but that wouldn’t happen because I supposedly wasn’t interested in jumping through all of those hoops. [1] I would argue with people on the internet, or on Facebook, and I think I was pretty good at it – I honed it over years of forum interactions. Actually, come to think of it– another ‘painful/shock’ moment I experienced was on the Darkstone forums when I was a kid. I was in primary school, maybe 10 or 11, and I was brazenly posting nonsense in a video game forum, thinking that I fit right in. Turns out I made something up that everyone else thought was stupid, and I got mocked / laughed at for it. (I think. It was so long ago, I really can’t remember the details).

Anyway, I don’t think I posted much on that forum anymore, and went on to post on other forums instead – GameFAQs, SOFT, some other video game forum I can’t remember where we got into extensive fanboy discussions about the precise nature of characters’ fireballs. Viewed from today’s vantage point, it seems like a lot of that was my training in web parlance – I learnt to dissect arguments, even pander to crowds. Yesterday I joined a Telegram group and somebody recognized me, saying that he was a fan of my writing “and… general online presence”. That was simultaneously flattering and amusing.

Anyway, all of that experience has taught me to be careful with my words when arguing with people, to avoid certain classes of arguments and people altogether, and to be clear about what I’m dealing with in a given circumstance. And that has given me a lot of confidence when operating in a text-based environment, and I think it shows.

In contrast, I’m still semi-awkward with the spoken word, and with body language. I have enough basic skills with writing and thinking in words that I can deliver a speech, and I have a bit of stage experience as a musician and occasional emcee/comic, but for the most part I actually think I’m NOT very confident as a speaker, and I think it shows.

Come to think of it, all of this stuff happens on a continuum. I’ve had less a less confident friend tell me that she wished she could be as confident as I was when speaking up for her ideas. So it’s all relative. I suppose we always think about people who are better than us, and we always focus on all the ways in which we fall short. But ultimately we have to know our own worth – we have a market worth based on what people are willing to pay for us (attention, admiration), and we have an inherent worth as human beings. And I think it helps if you fundamentally appreciate that.

[1] This answers a question from one of my recent vomits – what am I motivated by? What am I working so hard for? I’m trying to prove to myself that I can and will jump through hoops of my own choosing, if I see them fit. And maybe I’m constantly changing my ideas about which hoops are interesting, but I refuse to just give up and lie on my ass. I can do that when I’m old, or at scheduled micro-retirement type break.s

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