How to be BOLD

How to be BOLD

A few years ago I was at my daughter’s state spelling championships. These were some of the smartest kids in the whole state but what stuck me was many of the students displayed a lack of confidence. They didn’t make eye contact, they were hunched forward and they gave their answers tentatively. They had won several competitions to get to the finals but they weren’t confident.

Unfortunately I see this in adults in the workplace too. This lack of confidence holds people back. It stops them from standing up and talking. It stops them from taking on bigger responsibilities. It stops them from applying for better jobs. It stops them from doing things they are actually capable of. This lack of confidence becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. They doubt they are capable, so they don’t even try.

I get it, its hard to do something new. It can be scary to get our of our comfort zones. You can’t just tell someone to be “more confident” however. What I do suggest is that you try to be BOLD. The dictionary defines “bold” as showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous. Being “confident” and “courageous” sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

BOLD is a 4 step process to help people feel more confident. It’s simple and it works.

B - Breath

Start by doing 3 cycles of “Box Breathing.” Box breathing is a technique Navy SEALS uses to stay calm in the heat of battle. This technique calms your thoughts, slows your heart rate, and regulates your autonomic nervous system. If it works in life or death situations it will certainly work in normal life situations to calm you down.

To practice box breathing:
  • Inhale for the count of four.
  • Hold for the count of four.
  • Exhale for the count of four.
  • Hold for the count of four.

Practicing box breathing will calm you down. Its much easier to be confident and courageous when you are calm! You can learn more about box breathing here. Its a great idea to practice box breathing regularly so it becomes easy to do when you really need it,

O - Open

Now you are calm open yourself up - literally! A study at San Francisco State University found people with good posture were more confident. Put your chest out and your shoulders back. Look forward or slightly up with your head. Stand or sit up tall. Researchers at Ohio State University found that sitting or standing up straight gives you more confidence in your own thoughts. You can also try doing a “Power pose.” Stand up tall like Wonder Woman with your feet apart and your hands on your hips. Opening yourself up physically will make you feel more confident.

L - List.

Now you are a bit calmer, list what you want to do. We usually know what we DON’T want to happen but it’s more important to know ahead of time what you DO want to happen. You cant do something until you know what it is. This can take a moment to do because we are so used to hearing negatives. State the outcome positively. For example “I want to jump up 3 steps” rather than “I don’t want fall on my flat on face.” Or “I will deliver this speech well using my notes” rather than “I hope I don’t mess it up and forget my words.” Tell yourself what you want to happen. Say it to yourself. Picture yourself doing it. Believe you can do it.

D - Decide.

You have calmed yourself down with box breathing, you have boosted your confidence with your posture, you have listed what you want to do, now all that is left is to decide to do it.

Researchers conducted an interesting experiment a few years ago. They asked two groups of students to write an assignment over their Christmas break about what they did on Christmas Eve. The students were asked to turn in the assignment the day after Christmas. One group of students had to specify where and when they planned on writing the assignment. The other group didn’t specify when and where they planned to write their assignment.

What they found was 71% of the students who specified when and where they would work on their assignment turned it on on time. In contrast, only 32% of the students who did not specify when they would work on the assignment turned it in on time. In other words, the students who said in advance when they would work on the assignment were twice as successful.

What the students were doing was declaring “implementation intentions.” An implementation intention is the idea of deciding in advance when and where you will do something. For example “when I finish eating dinner then I will go brush my teeth.” This concept was discovered by a gentleman named Peter Gollwitzer and has been tested and shown to work in over 100 independent studies. In fact these studies have shown that people who declare implementation intentions are between 2 and 3 times more likely to follow through.

There you go. Everything you need to be BOLD and confident. Practice the technique before you need it. Breath. Open. List. Decide. You can use BOLD to give yourself whenever you need a confidence boost whether it be a state spelling championship, a speech at work or a job interview.