How To Be Confident
Were you awkward at school? I was…
At secondary school, I went through a terrible patch. Specially around girls.
I don’t think I’m unique, but that was no consolation.
At 14, I switched from sport to drama half-way through the school year.
This was partly because the boys doing sport were maniacs. When the teacher wasn’t watching, which happened a lot, they’d start playing this game called Punching Circle.
Very simple game: just punch the next person as hard as you can on the upper arm, and they in turn must punch the next person, until it has gone all the way round.
You mustn’t flinch when it’s your turn to take the blow. Otherwise you get punched again.
Like I said, it’s a simple game.
But my move from sport was also substantially motivated by the type of people I would be joining in drama: tons of girls.
Like a moth to a flame…
And drama turned out to be good for me. In so many ways.
But there was one excruciating moment towards the end of the year. The drama teacher sat us in a circle and asked what we’d got out of it…
“John, how did you think it went?”
(I hated people calling me John, instead of John-Paul or JP, but I’d given up correcting them.)
“All right,” I replied.
And then I went bright red.
And the more I thought about how embarrassed I was, the more embarrassed I became.
I was looking at the carpet, and I couldn’t help it but my mouth kept filling up with saliva so I had to keep swallowing, like I was scared.
And all the time the girls I liked were watching, quietly waiting for me to say something…
I thought I would die…
Then my eyes started to water.
Staring dimly at the carpet, and swallowing like a maniac, I wished I’d stayed in sport.
The thing about the nutters is, I knew how to behave: muck about, come up with evil tricks to play on each other, and throw insults.
Drama was different. Girls didn’t go in for that kind of thing.
After waiting for me to say something, and watching me go red and swallow all the time, the teacher said, “Are you feeling a little shy…?”
“No,” I said, and gulped some more.
I looked around to see if everyone was watching me. They were, but some of them looked away, to make me feel more comfortable. I didn’t look closely, just glanced, but I think that the girl I liked most was staring at her hands and pretending she wasn’t watching.
When the lesson ended, and people started to leave the classroom, the teacher stood by the door and intercepted me.
He put his arms around me, hugged me.
I was astonished. I just stood there, taller than him, with my arms hanging down.
He said, “John, listen, you’re doing so much better now than when you started. Well done.”
He said it quietly, under his breath so nobody would hear.
But the thing is, everybody was staring at us…
He was a brilliant teacher, and years later I still massively value what he said.
This was just me, being weird.
But like I said, I’m hardly unique. And a lot of people remain awkward well into adulthood.
And not only about talking to girls (or boys)…
Many people lack confidence about things that surprise me. Would probably surprise you too.
And I’ve come to see that the world is absolutely not a better place as a result of that.
Wonderful things don’t happen, simply because somebody lacks confidence.
I am privileged to see this a lot when I’m coaching people…
At some point in the conversation they sit up brightly and suggest a wheeze that fills them with excitement and pleasure.
And seconds later they shrink, and start telling me it’s not possible.
It jolly well is possible.
And I’d like to help as many people as possible to see that.
So I made a course.
My goal is to provide you with fresh ideas so that you can go forth to DO GREAT THINGS.
If you think that’s a good idea, START NOW