"Self confidence is a purifier of sorts that reduces the chatter in your head and allows you to fall into a state of flow."
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Tim Sanders, author of Love is the Killer App, The Likeability Factor and Saving the World at Work, has a knack for humanizing, and making actionable some of the great intangibles of our lives. In the The L-Factor, Tim tackled the nature of “Likeability” – the speed and depth with which people are drawn to you upon meeting you. His examples and exercises are clear and succinct, leaving readers with a clear understanding of his message and a sense of “I can do this”. They’re great books, with great lessons. His latest though, Today We Are Rich is something special. It’s something more. Today We Are Rich is Tim exposing himself to the world; sharing his unexpected and unusual upbringing and the events and teachings that shaped him into the man who would become a senior executive at Yahoo! and ultimately a world renowned speaker and author.
Abandoned by his mother, and orphaned by a murdered father, Tim was raised in relative poverty by his grandmother, Billye. It was from Billye that Tim learned the lessons that he shares in Today We Are Rich. Lessons on self confidence. Lessons we can (and should) all learn from, regardless of our title, responsibilities or station on life.
At a high level, the self confidence development lessons in Today We Are Rich focus on three key areas:
- “Feeding Your mind Good Stuff”,
- “Exercising Your Gratitude Muscle”, and
- “Preparing Yourself”.
Sanders explains (and provides examples of proof) that it is through these three practices that we can increase our confidence, not only in ourselves, but from and in others, and in a higher power. And it’s through an increased sense of confidence in these three areas that we can live the life we imagine for ourselves.
While the book is loaded with actionable tips, exercises and thought provoking questions for each of the three aforementioned key areas, there was one particular section that rang true as particularly important to me; the importance of keeping promises.
The Big Idea
"When you keep your commitments, you maintain your sense of integrity and self-respect and see yourself as a person who can be trusted."
Perhaps one of the reasons the “Promises” piece was so valuable to me was due to the fact that it simultaneously builds confidence internally (you feeling good as you keep your word), and from other people (their trust and respect for your integrity increasing every time you deliver). I also think it might be because keeping promises is becoming an increasingly difficult thing to do, the busier we get and the more forms of communication we have with people. But it sounds so simple, right?
“Keep your promises. Do what you say you’re going to. Follow through on commitments.”
I doubt there’s anyone among us who would argue the value and importance of keeping our promises. And yet, can any of us say with 100% certainty that we’ve never broken one? Why is that?
Casual integrity doesn't work
"The reason many promises aren’t kept is that they are treated as randomly as idle conversation."
How many times have you half listened to someone’s needs and jumped in with “I can help with that!” or “I should totally introduce you to …”
We have an innate desire to help our fellow man. When we hear a need expressed, we want to help. Which is not the same as saying we can help, or should help. Real integrity comes from fully understanding what the request means for you, before offering to help. An offer for assistance, an introduction, or access to other resources at your disposal should not be a casual thing. Which is challenging. It feels good to jump in (as Sander’s calls it, being “Johnny-on-the-spot”). It’s fun. Exciting even. But it’s not a strong long term plan.
Blowing off preparing for a presentation to go to the beach feels good in the moment too, but there are real long term consequences. No different for making promises without thinking ahead. A person of high integrity follows through, to the best of their ability on every commitment they make; not just half-assing at the last minute.
A couple tips to help you make better commitments, and follow through on them:
- Understand what you’re committing to. Ask questions before you offer to help. Think through what will be required on your end, and whether you have the time to do it properly. A commitment half executed can be worse than no commitment at all.
- Take active notes and send follow ups. Write down the commitment. Calendar the steps. Send it in an email to the person you made the commitment to. If you’re serious about maintaining (and increasing) your integrity, treat a commitment like any other project, and document the steps properly.
- Under promise and over deliver. What if you delivered on the commitment early? Or, instead of an email introduction, what if you arranged for the two people to meet face-to-face? Tell the person the minimum you’ll commit to, and then look for ways to exceed that. You’ll feel great, and they’ll think you’re a rock star. Nothing wrong with that.
Break at your own risk
"When calculating the price of breaking a promise, consider only the source of the promise. Keep your promises because of who you are, not because of who they are."
If you follow the tips in insight #1, hopefully you won’t have to break many commitments. Zero would be the goal. Chances are though, you will find yourself in a situation where there are strong, logical reasons to break them. And likely, the recipient would understand. After all, they’ve been disappointed before.
But what if you didn’t? Break it, I mean. What if you put in a herculean effort and actually pulled it off? How good would that feel? What do you think that would do to your self esteem? Accomplishing that, despite all odds, would put you on top of the world, ready to conquer everything. Remember – your recipient may forgive you, but your subconscious will never forget. Having rock star self confidence comes from living a life of integrity, and integrity starts with you.
Today We Are Rich is not a business book, per se. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and call it a “people book”. It’s a fantastic reminder of why we’re here, where confidence comes from, and how we can get more of it back into our lives. (I say back because you rarely see a five year old with confidence issues, do you?) Not only that, it’s a fun read. Tim Sanders has gone out on a limb – exposing his past, and opening himself up to the world. I applaud him for it. And, if the blogs and Twitter streams I’ve been seeing lately are any indication, this may be his most respected and sought after book yet. We could all learn a thing or two from Tim. I encourage you to do so.