Feel Good About Yourself
April 14, 2020
I remember this episode vividly. The year was 1993, I was fresh out of college into my first job, and I think it was early July. I was watching the Wimbledon Finals between Steffi Graf and Jana Novotna. Steffi Graf had won the first set 7-6. Jana Novotna, the second set 6-1 and she was leading 4-1, 40-30 up in the final set, serving to go two breaks up. The Czech hit a double-fault that was wild. Many similar serves, ground strokes, and volleys followed, and in a dramatic turnaround, Steffi lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish as the winner. I loved Steffi Graf and was very thrilled that she won. But what has remained with me after all these years is that choke of Jana Novotna.
That day Jana Novotna was the superior player for the majority of the match, but somehow even when she was on the verge of winning the game, it did not look like she was confident of winning the game. Jana Novotna lacked self-belief while Steffi Graf was the very epitome of supreme self-confidence.
Self-belief is the confidence in my ability and capacity to meet the demands of any task that I feel is important for the achievement or success of any goal I may have. It is a mindset.
I could be 100% in Intellect, Education, Personality, Communication, Knowledge. However, if I lack self-belief, I will struggle compared to someone who may be average in all these dimensions but rules supreme in self-belief. For me, a great example of this is Donald Trump. His sense of self-belief is so blind that it almost borders of megalomania.
Self-belief is a significant determining factor in my leading a healthy, happy, and meaningful life. There are many things that people advise on how to improve self-belief.
A few ideas that I have found useful for myself.
- Proper Grooming: It’s uncanny how a shower, a shave, and right attire can completely enhance feelings of self-confidence and self-image. When getting into important meetings, I make it a point to get into my best outfits with the best cologne splashed on.
- Deliver on promises: There is no more significant boost to my self-image than to fulfill all the commitments I make to myself and others. I will be lying if I say I do this effectively. It is something I strive to do. The people I admire for their confidence and self-belief all have one thing in common. When they say they will do something, they do it. Doing small things without fail in a disciplined manner has an enormous ripple effect on the more critical agendas. Discipline in the small stuff creates the momentum to commit to disciplined effort on the vital issues.
- Build good habits: These don’t have to be significant. Simple things that focus on building discipline. Getting up 30 min earlier than usual, exercising at least 5 days a week, eating one meal only for a couple of days in a week, reading for at least 30 min. Select something small, something you are confident you can do. First, do it for a week, then a fortnight, later a month, and more. When you do something consistently with discipline, you’ll feel like a million bucks. During the last one month of lock-down, I have developed a few of these,reading for at least 1 hour a day, Digital Detox through the day for two days every week, meditation twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Exercise: This is critical for our physical well being. When I go for a walk and exercise, I feel so much better about myself. Whether you go to the gym or you do it in your garden, it doesn’t matter. Do this if you are already not doing it.
- Speak slowly: This last one is something one of my mentors told me to do. It may sound innocuous. But it has an enormous impact on how others perceive you, which in turn affects how you feel about yourself. A person who feels confident and in control will speak slowly and deliberately. A person who is low on self-belief will talk fast, worried that he is holding others to something not worthy of listening. In case you have a problem speaking very fast, try speaking slowly. It will make you feel more confident.
There are a lot of little things that go to create a strong self-belief. These are few of my little things.