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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It Takes Courage to Develop Confidence

 By: T.c. North


When you think about doing something new or challenging, most likely some part of you will be afraid of failing or of being embarrassed or hurt. Courage helps you take on challenges. The bigger the challenge and the greater the risk, the more courage you need. Each time you’re successful at that challenge, you develop more confidence and need less courage. Courage and confidence are two ends of a continuum.

Here’s an example of the courage to confidence continuum in my life. In my early 20s, I was an exercise physiologist in a wellness clinic. Robert, the physician and the clinic owner came to me one day and said he’d just received a call from the owner of Phidippides, a local running store. Robert said, "He asked me if my exercise physiologist would give a talk on aerobic exercise. It will be a small group, probably five to 10 people in their store. Would you like to give this presentation?" Most people don’t know this about me, but I was a shy, off-the-charts introvert, so my response was, "No! I don’t do public speaking!"

Robert, who turned out to be one of my great life teachers, then very authoritatively said, "TC, sit down." So I did and he continued, "I recommend you take this speaking engagement and all the others ever offered to you, and then create some more." I couldn’t believe what he said! Robert’s suggestion sent a wave of terror through my body, beginning at the top of my head and continuing down through my feet completely engulfing my body. But despite my terror, I listened to Robert and managed to say, "OK."

Three months later, I showed up at the running store for an audience of six people. I sat in a chair because my legs felt like jelly and I knew they wouldn’t hold me. I faced my audience and read my 10-minute presentation word for word off a yellow piece of paper that quivered so hard everyone could hear it. Now I have attended over a thousand presentations and to date, my first presentation was the worst presentation I’ve ever been to!

This first presentation may have sounded like a disaster, but it was actually quite glorious. When I got into my car afterward, I was ecstatic. I raised my arms into the air, looked up and yelled with joy, "YES, thank you God!" Why was I ecstatic? Because I hadn’t died. For the three months leading up to that speaking engagement, it felt like I would die if I gave that talk. This is how irrational our mind can be and why it’s important to learn to gain control of our emotions. Giving the talk was also an enormous personal victory for me because I had the courage to go face to face with one of my greatest fears: public speaking.

More than 30 years later, I’ve now delivered over 400 presentations and have gained more confidence with each one. Today, I’m a confident professional speaker, trainer and coach; I love empowering audiences with the techniques that can increase their courage and confidence. I’ve moved from the courage end of the continuum to the confident end as a speaker, but it took me a ton of courage over a number of years to become a confident speaker.

There are some fairly easy ways to jump-start strengthening both courage and confidence, and there are other processes that will take months and years. I’ll address both in future articles, which include topics such as accessing a reservoir of courage that you don’t know you have, immediately accessing your most confident self,— even how to program your brain to be more courageous or confident in the future, and many more techniques to develop more courage and confidence and to overcome fear.

My articles include proven techniques that I’ve taught Olympic athletes, professional athletes, entrepreneurs and sales professionals, as well as many people who just want to be more courageous and more confident. Everyone can have more control of their courage and confidence. You can … if you chose to. Do you?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage."
— Anais Nin

Dr. North consults with companies to create high-performance sales and leadership cultures to increase both top and bottom lines. In his presentations he teaches sales professionals and leaders the same mental success strategies he has taught Olympic and professional athletes. Dr. TC North also coaches highly motivated individuals, and groups of entrepreneurs, sales professionals and solopreneurs. Learn more at
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