When we were young we knew how to believe in ourselves.
I don’t think I would ever ride a bike if I had to learn that after the age of 20 but as a 5yo I was told I could do it and I believed I could….and then I did….possibly with a few grazed knees and crashes along the way but that didn’t stop me believing that the bike would be conquered.
Why is it that adults can’t retain that childish belief that anything is possible? And why is that so important?
Recently I have had the good fortune to watch literally scores of clinicians “performing” either in practice sessions, exams or on the floor. What they are doing is acting really and trying to prove that they are ready to conquer the pinnacle of their career. Most of them are very good doctors with a fabulous grasp on the knowledge required to perform their roles and some of them are wonderful performers….and others are not.
What is it that makes two people with the same knowledge perform so differently?
Being born with it
Some of us are born confident, most of us aren’t.
We have that optimistic outlook and despite adversity assume that everything will be all right. We believe that we will succeed and partly because of this optimism we usually do. And even when we don’t we can focus on the effort if not the result and still feel satisfied.
Those of us who don’t feel this way can certainly identify people who fit this description and observing how they perform and act in situations is a step towards success and can form the model that we fake…see later on…
We were brought up that way
Between our parents and our teachers and our mentors our view of ourselves has been shaped. Depending on the feedback these key people gave us in our tender years of early development we will have an inbuilt resilience that will weather at least a few bumpy rides to success. For some of us though, our later years as an apprentice has not been so nurturing and the knocks we weather may not be so easy to recover from. Tapping into that inner resilience that helped you succeed as a youngster and revisiting those people that have always believed in you can go a long way towards restoring your inner belief. Call your mum, spend time with your mates from uni and remember when you were 20 and invincible before you go in to conquer the latest challenge…
We wear the label
Just like Wesley learnt in The Princess Bride – no-one will treat you with respect and confidence if you haven’t assumed the title. You must call yourself “Dread Pirate Roberts” if you want them to be afraid and handover the loot. You must call yourself the consultant if you want your patients or the examiners to believe that that is what you are. And this can’t just be on the exam day. You need to walk around calling yourself the senior clinician for months so that you and everyone else believes it.
We can see ourselves succeeding
Many swear by self-visualisation. They see themselves succeeding in their task therefore they enter the task with the presumption that they can do it. Certainly from my observation those that believe they can do it present themselves with confidence and poise and it seems will be forgiven for minor mistakes.
In this way they will fulfil their own prophecy because of the confidence they bring to the situation. We believe that they can do it because they do (even if they seem to slip up a bit on the way). Seeing yourself achieving that goal will allow you to ride the hiccuppy ride to success…or so they say…
We “talk the talk”
Even if we can’t fool our mind into thinking that we are going to succeed, if we can act confident (despite the tremors inside) or act sympathetic (successfully suppressing the eye roll) then those we encounter will believe in us…and if they believe that is only a short skip and a hop to us believing.
Just like Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman if you fake it for long enough you will make it…. Or so the theory goes.
We use our body language and “walk the walk”
As the famous Amy Cuddy teaches us – your body language and your posture can really shape how people see you and also how you feel yourself. Confident postures can increase your cortisol and testosterone and may modify your brain…in some complex way….
If you use your “power poses” then this can affect how successful you are. My jack russel puppy used this very effectively at the dog park and could have the great danes on their backs in submission by using his power poses. Surely if a 3 kg dog can do it we can!
So I hope you can take some of these tips and increase your chance of success by tapping into your inner resilience, remembering times where you felt like a superbeing, modelling those people that seem to be born with it, visualising yourself succeeding, using your non verbals and your award winning acting skills and faking it if needed….until it is real!
Good luck 🙂