"It is important not to fear fear, but to harness it--use it as fuel to take your business to the next level. After all, fear is energy." And thus spoke Richard Branson, entrepreneurial mastermind.
Branson is indeed correct, fear is just energy, and energy--let us not forget--can neither be created nor destroyed.
Think of fear as perhaps your most powerful resource and be willing and ready to convert it into your greatest asset, the secret ingredient that allows Branson to both rule and improve the world: confidence.
Naysayers might argue that it's easy for Branson to be a success, but every success is built upon a thousand failures.
As Branson recounts, "The day after we launched Virgin Atlantic, the bank manager came to my house and threatened to shut us down. I pushed him out the front door and called my team to try and work out a way of solving this problem together. It was a very sweaty moment."
Ingenuity, teamwork and perseverance saw him through this moment, but more than anything it was the confidence that they could and should overcome such a massive hurdle that allowed them to move forward.
If you have a big presentation or challenging obstacle that demands your most confident self, either in life or at work, it's not enough to simply tell yourself, "Okay, I'm going to act confident" or "I'm going to project confidence even if I don't feel it."
That never works and generally reeks of artifice.
The power of the hook
Something I help my clients do is to activate charismatic confidence with what I refer to as their "hook." A hook is a deeply emotional attitude that you cultivate within your body and own verbally, propelling you to the successful completion of whatever you're about to do.
The hook is designed to spark a rocket blast of confidence within seconds. There is never a one size fits all approach to finding it--it's born out of your singular passion and raw emotion for the task at hand.
I recently helped one of my clients overcome painful shyness when it came to giving a presentation in front of 40 of his closest colleagues.
After the majority of our work was finished, I asked him where in his body he felt the excitement of his presentation topic. His face instantly lit up with an infectious smile, and he pointed with adolescent glee and pride at his crotch.
When I asked him to describe it in detail, he said he imagined he was wearing a Ferrari red Speedo. I asked him, "If the Speedo could speak what would it say?" Without a moment's hesitation, he said, "Dance with me!"
His whole body was instantly aglow with fun, and I knew he was ready to start his presentation. With this new launch pad of passion, his delivery was extraordinary.
The power of the hook orbits around the notion that your words shape your reality, so that you instantly become what you are saying.
Your hook needs to be so powerful and concise that when you say it, you feel as though your whole being is ignited, so that when you start speaking, you do so lit up and on fire!
A hook gives you a type of organic confidence to help power you, easily, and with great fun, through any life challenge you're facing.
It's helped clients get out of bed in the morning, speak in front of the UN, go in for that big job interview, pitch their startup, rally their team, etc.
The object is to effect change and get results
Smart people in business often forget, it's not just about the content: the way you tell a story--the delivery and performance--is just as important.
A brilliant, world-changing pitch wrapped in a dull or rote presentation doesn't get results.
Building unshakeable confidence takes work and repetition. As Branson reminds us, "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage."
Once you've done the work, you need to glide into the room with the utter, unshakeable belief that you and your ideas are the absolute and unquestionable solution.
There are no maybes. You are the solution.