Problem: I received a call from a salesperson pitching the idea of getting involved in an investment opportunity. I listened to what he had to say, explained why it would not be right for me, thanked him for thinking of me, and we said our goodbyes. I remember thinking as I hung up the phone, “He really doesn’t believe in what he is selling.” Upon reflection, my thought about his product not being a right fit for me was triggered by his lack of confidence. I could hear the uncertainty in his voice and in his response to my questions.
Analysis: I recently visited the great American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Winter home, Taliesin West, in Scottsdale, AZ. It is here that he started his school of architecture.
In addition to being a brilliant architect, he was not lacking in confidence. He often told the story that when he was a young boy his mother would state when introducing him, “He will be the best known architect in the world.” Being constantly introduced this way gave him the confidence that it would come true.
He recognized that his students may not come with such confidence in their abilities. Part of the enrollment requirements included students having a tuxedo or evening dress, which seemed like an odd requirement to most. But upon arrival at the school, they soon learned that Frank and his wife love to host parties and they, the students, were to serve as waiters or waitresses. Thus the need for a nice evening dress or tuxedo.
As the Wrights entertained their guests, the surrogate servers provided drinks and hors d’oeuvres to the likes of John Wayne and other celebrities of the day.
Wright’s thought was “If you could serve the likes of John Wayne, when you became an architect you would be comfortable presenting your plans to anyone.”
He knew that confidence in oneself was one key to success.
Solution: Developing confidence comes from listening to your authentic voice – what you know to be true. It is up to you to discover this.
A good example of this is in the movie Walk the Line, a film that chronicles the life of Johnny Cash. In a pivotal scene where Cash is recording a demo with legendary producer Sam Phillips of Sun Records, Phillips interrupts Cash’s lackluster cover of Jimmy Davis’ song “I Was There When It Happened.” When Cash retorts the interruption with “Well you didn’t let us bring it home.” Phillips delivers one of the most moving monologues in modern cinema:
“Bring… bring it home? All right, let’s bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you’re dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin’ me that’s the song you’d sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it’s real, and how you’re gonna shout it? Or… would you sing somethin’ different. Somethin’ real. Somethin’ you felt. ‘Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song people want to hear. That’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothin’ to do with believin’ in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with believin’ in yourself.”
With Phillip’s direction, Cash sings a song he had written and felt strongly about, “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Like Johnny Cash found his authentic voice due in part to that moment, going on to birth a catalog of beloved music, you must discover how to authentically express your own truth.
My good friend Chris Lytle stated the three keys to success:
- Know something
- Know that you know
- Get known for what you know
What is the one thing you know to be true about what you sell, and how do you authentically express that?