How I’m trying to get my confidence back

stepping-off-ledgeI’ve got a confession to make: I’ve lost my mojo. You probably noticed that it has been a few weeks since my last post. You’d be right. It’s tough to talk about how to get your confidence back when you’ve lost a little bit of it yourself. So, here’s what happened. Over the past year, I, with the help of a production company, have been working on a TV show based on tackling workplace dysfunction. After crafting what I thought is a pretty awesome “sizzle reel” (a 3 minute promo for the show) the folks at the production company pitched the concept to  every possible network that might be interested over the last two months. The result? A big fat goose egg. Nothin’. Nada. Zilch. While I had convinced myself that rejection was a very real possibility, I gotta tell ya, I’m bummed. I had no idea that I had put so much time and mental energy into picturing this project coming to fruition. Now that it isn’t happening, I feel like I’m just going through the motions, a bit lost and a bit shaken.

Ever felt like that?

So this post is going to be different than most. It is going to be a funky combination of self therapy (workplace therapist, heal thy self), a deeper look into my quirky brain and hopefully, something for you in the process (even if it is simply pure entertainment).

Reclaiming My Inner Superhero

superheroAs a little kid, I always had a fascination (bordering on an obsession) with superheroes. On any given day, you would have probably found 6-year old Brandon donned in some costume with an accompanying cape.  Oh, and I didn’t just stay inside with my costume.  Oh no.  I would routinely walk over to neighbor’s houses, ring the doorbell and announce my presence in grand superhero fashion when they opened the door.  From Superman to Spiderman, any superhero with superhuman powers were on the menu.  After all, what could be cooler than having some combination of super powers and using those to stop the bad guys and save the world?

About a week ago, what I realized is that the best way for me to move past this disappointment and reclaim my spark is for me to dig down deep and reclaim my inner superhero. And since superheroes embody the confidence that all of us want (and I particularly need at the moment), below is my self-prescription.

  1. I need to remind myself of my mission. Superheroes are mission-focused. That’s what makes them superheroes. They are focused on some altruistic goal greater than themselves like combating some nasty bad guy bent on total dominance or defending a group of innocent people that can’t defend themselves. That description sounds like the workplace to me. I think I’ve got my mission back.
  2. I need to remind myself I’m “super.” Superheroes come to embrace their superpowers and hold a deep belief that they can get it done. That includes flying over buildings, smashing boulders, talking to whales and even spinning webs. They believe they can do what others believe can not be done. I gotta get that back.
  3. I can’t give up. I need to regroup to my bat cave, lick my wounds and come back smarter and stronger. What’s true about superheroes is that they always get knocked down. But when was the last time you saw a superhero just hang up their cape and say “you got me. I’m done.”?  They always persevere. It doesn’t mean they aren’t scared. Their courage and belief in themselves trumps their fear. I’ve already started my inventory of what I’ve learned from this failure so I can come back faster and stronger the second time around.
  4. I need to keep moving. There is no superhero syllabus or step-by-step play book. Superheroes don’t wait for someone to tell them what to do. They are proactive not reactive. They are always moving forward. As much as I don’t want to, I’ve got to get more irons in the fire and keep moving forward. Fake it ‘til you make it.

Can you see the similarities between superheroes and confident people?  Ask yourself, of the four items above, which do you possess today.  Get your inner superhero working for you.

One final confession, I’m one of those people that when I sleep, it is not unusual for me to have the same dreams over and over again. Some of these reoccurring dreams are probably not uncommon like the nightmare that I’m back in college and have a final in a few hours only to realize that I haven’t attended class all semester.  Yuck.  Other dreams are probably a little less than common. One of my more quirky reoccurring dreams is that I’m like the superhero from the cult-classic TV show from the early 80’s “Greatest American Hero.” If you know much about that show, the main character is given a superhero suit that bestows on him special powers when he wears it but he can’t always get the suit to cooperate.  In my reoccurring dream, I suffer the same frustration.  I know I’ve got superpowers and use them just fine early in the dream but when I really need them later in the dream, I can’t get them to activate.  That’s usually when I wake up, frustrated and stuck.  Not this time.

I’m feeling better already…


A note from Brandon
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11 replies
  1. Kimberly Johnson says:

    I also lost my confidence a few months ago and have been struggling to get back on path. Thank you so much for this post, it’s exactly what I need.

  2. Dave Myer says:

    Brandon- very interesting post and something a lot of people can relate to.

    I was reading in the WSJ years ago and literally cut out an article (it was from October 13, 2010). It’s called “Slumping at Work? What Would Jack Do? How Nicklaus, other athletes can spark an office comeback” It’s about confidence and it introduced an idea that really got me thinking and that I’ve shared with many people I’ve coached.

    It takes John Smoltz as an example – who had fallen into a slump in ’91. A Dr. Llewellyn was enlisted to help him through it. “The principles that lead to slumps are the same…signaling a slump are a loss of confidence, over-thinking every move, dwelling on past failures or working too much.”

    “‘I had lost my confidence,’ says Mr. Smoltz” (I get a kick out of “Mr. Smoltz”) “Frustrated, he was trying to break out of his slump with hard work, but he was rushing himself on the mound and over-analyzing every bad pitch he made.”

    To help him through it, Dr Llewellyn had him repeatedly watch a two minute tape he had made of John’s half-dozen perfect pitches. Then he had John visualize that when he made a bad pitch. “I literally would not step back on the mound until I had pulled up that positive file in my mind.”

    It’s a powerful thought – we tend to bear down when things aren’t going our way, and work ourselves out of it. Analyzing becomes over-analyzing and we embed an error into our self image. But stepping back, loosening our grip a bit, taking a break, remembering our strengths (or a personal highlight reel) can all help regain perspective.

    It’s a great article if you get a chance to look it up.

  3. Brandon Smith says:

    Thanks Dave! Not only is this helpful for me, but it just helped me rethink and reframe a problem I’ve been encountering with a current client. Double thanks!

  4. David says:

    This is a great post. Sorry about your show, the TV execs obviously just haven’t caught up with the most important and pressing issues of our time. You’re just ahead of the curve. Perhaps you’ll find that the opportunities you can now take advantage of will be well worth it.

    I too, loved super heros. The idea of having super powers and making a difference seems to make complete sense to a child’s mind, and it seems many people that have accomplished great things have held on to that idea at some level.

    Thanks a lot for permanently implanting a theme song in my head with that video.

  5. Brandon Smith says:

    Thanks David for the encouragement. I’m definitely not giving up… “Believe it or not, I’m walkin’ on air…” 🙂

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