Peruse the personal development shelves of any bookstore, and you’ll find dozens of books about how to increase your own confidence and inspire the confidence of others. We know why confidence is desirable for us (Who wouldn’t want to avoid the crushing pain of insecurity and fear?), but why is it attractive in others?
As human beings, we have an innate need for connection and safety. Confident people can make us feel both, and that is why we are so drawn to them. We get nervous around people who are not confident about what they do. When others seem shaky and uncertain, we absorb that feeling, and it puts us on edge. This is particularly true when we watch someone perform.
A confident performer, regardless of whether he’s a musician or a figure skater, allows us to relax and enjoy the journey of emotion that’s being shared. An anxious performer, on the other hand, causes us to worry. Are we going to get the experience we came for? Are we going to have to participate in someone else’s embarrassment or disaster? It’s nearly impossible to connect with a performance like that.
Confidence vs. Arrogance
While confidence is attractive, arrogance is off-putting, and there’s a fine line between the two.
Confidence says, “I know who I am; I know what I can do. I’ve prepared my part well, and I am ready to do my best.”
Arrogance, on the other hand, says, “I know who everyone is. I know what everyone should do, and given the chance, I could do it better than they can.”
Interestingly, arrogant people – people intent on proving that they are better, more important, or more intelligent than the others around them – are generally the most insecure. When you are confident, you understand your place in the whole. You know the part you are to play and understand the importance of playing it well (whether in music or life).
When people insist on trying to insert themselves into other’s roles, it is because they don’t believe that the part they are supposed to play is valuable enough. Essentially, they aren’t sure that they matter. Unlike confident people, who value learning from others who are further along than they are, arrogant people are intimidated by better players. They blow themselves up, act as though they know everything to avoid being seen as “inferior.” They lack humility.
This lack of humility makes them unteachable. When you can’t be taught, you can’t improve.
As a musician, if someone asks you to play a C major scale, no doubt you feel 100% confident about your ability to do that. You’ve done it a million times. You are well prepared.
Preparation and exposure are great confidence builders. Classical musicians tend to have an abundance of confidence in some areas and a complete lack of it in others. You may be confident about performing a piece, but not confident talking to the audience or booking a show.
The best way to develop confidence in a new area is to practice. Isolate a specific skill, say, stage banter, and focus on doing that well until it begins to feel as simple as that C major scale.
Confidence is grown like a seed, little by little, but once it blossoms, it’s beautiful to behold.
This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.
If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.