Tim Lewis: This is the second one of my solo shows and I’m going to try and keep this very short. Something I’ve always prided myself upon is that no matter what happens with this show, I’ll always put an episode out when I said I’ll put an episode out, and so far I’ve managed to keep to that. If you go through the archives you’ll see that there are some very, very short shows and that’s usually like this situation where I needed to schedule a show and I haven’t got very long to actually do it, and the shorter the show the less work it is.
Tim Lewis: It’s unusual with podcasting in that the shorter the show, seems to make it almost exponentially less work, so I better just get onto the topic really, shouldn’t I? I’ve spent a whole minute flapping about talking about how short podcasts are easier to edit.
Tim Lewis: What am I going to talk about today? I’m going to talk about confidence. This is something that despite being now 45 years old, I’m only beginning to truly understand the power of confidence. I think we all know that confidence is important. It was only recently that I’ve been realising that a lack of confidence, especially towards books or your own creations, can have really profound negative consequences.
Tim Lewis: If you think that let’s say that you’ve got a book and you’re trying to sell it, you’ve got your History of the World From 1973 to 1976. Actually, you know an awful lot about that topic, but for whatever reason you’ve just met somebody who has got the book of the history of the 1970s and they’re so much better than you and you suddenly lose confidence.
Tim Lewis: You start getting into this attitude where you kind of say things like, “Oh, well, I hope you like this book. I know not everybody likes it and sort of, yeah, there’s a bit in the middle, it’s not very good, and …” Even though your book may be absolutely fantastic, because you have no confidence in it, or you have a low level of confidence in it, you start self-sabotaging.
Tim Lewis: Most people, and I’m the same as everybody else, not quite as bad as some people. Most people aren’t very good at judging competence. What they judge is confidence. There may be somebody else there, who’s got a fairly terrible book about the whole of the 20th century, that they’ve cobbled together, but they’re just insanely confident about it. They kind of go, “Oh, it’s the best book ever.”
Tim Lewis: Most people aren’t gonna have read that book. Other people will pick up on that confidence and they’ll remember when somebody says, “Oh, we want a book about the 1970s.” They’ll say, “Oh yeah, I remember Joe who’s got that book about the whole 20th century. He seemed really happy and confident about it, so I’ll recommend him.”
Tim Lewis: They’re not necessarily gonna remember you when you’ve been saying, “Oh well, I’m not quite sure if I did 1976 right. That was a very poor year in my book.” Even though your book may be considerably better about 1976 than this wishy-washy guy, that this hyper-confident person has produced.
Tim Lewis: The answer is that of course, most of us aren’t those … There are some people who are innately good at faking confidence, or are self-deluded, and they think everything they do is the most wonderful thing ever, or, there’s a certain amount of confidence that come from ignorance.
Tim Lewis: If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t know that there’s all these other books about, then you can create something, fully unaware that it’s really terrible compared to everything else that’s available, because you’ve never read anything else available. But the fact that you’re so confident about it can make that book a success, or that product a success.
Tim Lewis: So for the rest of us who aren’t necessarily isolated and not very good at sort of faking confidence, I suppose there’s a couple of options. One is to try and fake the confidence. They use various exercises to try and understand just how good your book is.
Tim Lewis: The other thing I suppose that works, and it’s one of the reasons why people recommend nicheing down into a topic is that there’s gonna be a lot less competition in a niche, and also the fact is that it’s a lot easier to be confident about something when it’s very specific.
Tim Lewis: So that’s kind of why I use this example of this guy with this book from the 1970s, there’s hardly anybody gonna be writing a book like that, so there’d be very little competition, so more likely to have confidence in your book.
Tim Lewis: The problem with niching of course is that you are limiting your market, but I think confidence is kind of like a chain reaction sort of thing, so if you get confidence from writing a very niche book, and then move up to a slightly wider niche, and build up confidence that way.
Tim Lewis: The other alternative is to literally try and learn to fake it until you make it. This is something I’ve been trying to do recently, it’s to overcome your natural instinct to try and downplay things. This doesn’t even have to be … You don’t actually have to be confident, just have to be able to spot those cases where you show a lack of confidence through what you say and what you do, and just trying and eliminate those habits from your daily life.
Tim Lewis: So don’t second guess. I mean, don’t go round and do a Donald Trump and say, “This is the best book ever and you’ve got to read this.” But certainly don’t say like, “Oh, chapter six is a bit weak.” And don’t do what I did on my last podcast and say that you basically shoved in a load of extra stuff in the middle of a book. But you know what I mean.
Tim Lewis: You have to overcome the language and the body language as well that you use, that shows a lack of confidence. If you removed those, I think that’ll make a bigger difference. Your confidence will grow because people will take your book more seriously. If you’re going up to people and saying, “Here’s a book I wrote in NaNoWriMo and yeah, it’s all a bit sort of rushed, and oh yeah, you probably won’t like it.” Then a lot of people are … Nobody’s gonna remember you, nobody’s gonna even check out the book.
Tim Lewis: Far better to kind of say, “Oh yeah, I was really excited to write this really quite great fantasy story.” And then talk about the book, and kind of like how much you enjoyed writing it, and how much you love fantasy, and then just cut out the kind of like … If people interrogate you about things, then be truthful, but don’t volunteer any negative information about your products.
Tim Lewis: So that’s my little aside about confidence. If you manage to master this, then do tell me how. I’m still trying. I’m fairly confident with my new book, I just need to finish the thing, to be honest. So that’ll be a case study in the realm of confidence. Is there anything you’re doing to sabotage your life by presenting a lack of confidence? If so, have a look at trying to cut it out.