I have no idea why, but I remember it so vividly.
We were sitting at the kitchen table talking as we normally did – business, mindset and life stuff, when my sister Jill suddenly blurted out, “You know, sometimes you just have to look in the mirror and be like, ‘I’m the shit.’ I don’t know what else to tell you.”
We both busted out laughing.
It’s funny, but it’s true. Sometimes you have to stand up and say, “I got this.”
But it hasn’t been that easy for me. Maybe you can relate. It’s not exactly a light switch that you can just flip and suddenly you’re a confident, badass, successful OG.
I’ve always been a confident kid, but ever since I left high school I’ve struggled mentally a lot. It’s like I lost my belief in myself. I was doing all the affirmations and positive thinking the self-help books were teaching:
“You’re a badass, capable dude, who’s an awesome writer with luxurious hair.” And repeat.
Although I do have those luxurious locks, I still struggled with writing and believing that I could actually accomplish my audacious goals.
So glad you asked. There’s a term in psychology called self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the extent or strength of one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.
Basically, it’s the ‘I’m The Shit’ Light Switch. It’s your ability to stand up, say, “I got this,” and truly believe it. But how do we build confidence?
1) We’re watching … us?
The way we observe and judge other people is the same way we judge ourselves: by their actions.
If somebody shows up drunk to work, vomits all over your new shoes, and then proceeds to blame you for leaving your feet there, they are now officially an asshole. It’s a fair judgment.
So here’s the deal, I was spending hours upon hours of my week binge watching Netflix, eating Chipotle meal after meal, sleeping in till noon, and skipping class (in order to make more time for Netflix, of course. The law of trade-offs: it’s a real thing).
So how could I possibly tell myself that I was a badass writer on my way to greatness when I knew I as watching TV instead of writing, and eating Chipotle instead of working out.
It’s because our actions are more important than our words.
The more moves we make, the more we build confidence.
In his 2014 commencement speech, Navy Seal Admiral Bill McRaven suggests that we make our bed:
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task… and another… and another. The little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”
It’s interesting advice, but makes some sense. I’ve never really made my bed before moving in with Kels, but I am a huge advocate of small, daily wins. Small actions completed daily will build the belief in yourself required to step up and accomplish bigger things. Focus less on what you say, and more on what you do. What does somebody who is successful in your field do daily? Are you doing those things?
2) Wait it out.
One night I was at the bar with my Dad. We were talking about growth and development, and he said, “You know Dan, we’re used to doing something for 20 years, and then we learn something new and want to change what took us 20 years to establish in a matter of days.”
Jill has been writing a lot about patience lately, and then she’s been sending me the links because she knows I struggle with the waiting game. I want to have a book deal, successful online business, a pool table, and a steam room in my living room, and I want it all yesterday.
She often reminds me how she wrote articles everyday, Monday thru Friday, for YEARS in order for JillFit to be what it is today.
Writing a blog post today doesn’t lead to a book deal tomorrow. In reality, hundreds of blog posts lead to one tweet from your favorite author #NotAtAllHumbleBrag #ImTheShitSwitch:
Waiting can be tough, but it’s necessary. Doing the right things, day after day, week after, year after year, finally lead to what feels like a sudden flip of the “I’m The Shit Switch.”
3) Another gratitude reminder.
The third element of turning on the I’m The Shit Switch is gratitude. “Oh great, another self-help blogger preaching gratitude.” That’s exactly right. That’s exactly what I’m doing. But check it –
Research from my man Shawn Achor shows that when we practice gratitude, our brain starts to subconsciously scan for things to be grateful for. It’s essentially the same effect I get after binge watching Suits. I start to have these dreams where Harvey Spector and I are having business meetings, and I’m scanning the world for cases I can close.
Frequency builds habits. Think grateful and you’ll see more to be grateful for. Here’s the exercise:
Everyday write down three things you’re grateful for. The only catch is that they have to be different everyday. They can’t be the same three things as yesterday and the day before.
A grateful person is not a depressed person.
The more in your life you see to be grateful for, the more you appreciate all you have and all you’ve done, and the more of a foundation self-efficacy has to build confidence.
Confidence doesn’t build from empty words. It doesn’t come from looking in the mirror and saying how much you love yourself and your luxurious hair. It comes from building skills, success habits, and mini accomplishments over a period of time.
Because the fact of the matter is you are the shit. Nobody else can do what you do in this world. We actually need you to do it. Don’t worry whether you believe it or not yet. Just keep moving, make your bed, be patient, and be grateful along the journey.
Then one day you’ll look in the mirror and just be like, you know what? I am the shit. And actually believe it.
The Switch has been flipped.