Getting Your Groove Back

Or: How to regain confidence after you’ve lost it.

Dear Friend,

How’s it going? Alright? You don’t look alright to me.

You look like you’re going through rough times. Like you’ve had a couple setbacks and now you’re not so sure of yourself. Like maybe you’ve lost your way.

I don’t see that swagger in your walk any more. No wink and grin that says “Watch what I’m about to do.”

And of course, your results.

Your work is dull. Mediocre. You’re going through the motions – putting in the hours but not really giving it your best. You’re playing scared. You’re watching your back instead of charging ahead. You’ve lowered both the expectations you’ve set for yourself, and for how others will treat you.

You look like you’ve given up on yourself.

But guess what? Even if you’re giving up on you, I’m not.

I believe in you. I believe in what you’re capable of. I believe in what you’ve done, where you’re going and who you will grow to become.

I’ve been there man – been in the dumps because I screwed up. Everyone was counting on me and I blew it. It sucked. Hard. I know things have been hard for you. But you gotta shake that off. Don’t let the bastards get you down you know?

I know, easier said that done, right?

But there are tangible ways of getting there. Like winning some small victories.

Set some little goals for yourself. Maybe it’s going for a 10 minute walk. Or finishing two chapters of the book each week. Or it’s coding up one tiny shippable change to the codebase.

Earn little wins and start remembering what success feels like.

Take some time everyday to feed your mind.

From now on your mental diet is cutting out junk food. Like Fox News. Or any news for that matter. No more bad economy crap. No more  getting into flame wars with trolls on Reddit.

Instead read about how Airbnb almost hung up the towel again and again before becoming a $1B company. See  Heather Dorniden fall flat on her face in a championship 600m race only to come back and win. Or how Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, many of them in solitary confinement before getting elected President of South Africa in their first ever multi-racial elections.

Or just order one of the many Chicken Soup for the Soul books off Amazon. Seriously! There’s a reason they’ve sold hundreds of millions of copies.

Our world is one of second chances, of comebacks and turn arounds. The more you fill yourself with the strength of others who have turned around, the sooner yours will be.

Next, find some people to support, encourage and push you.

I’ll always be there, but you might want to find other peers as well. People you respect and like. Work with them. Find ways to partner, help each other and build each other up.

Lean on your friends and family – you’ll be surprised at how willing they are to help. Coming back isn’t as hard when you have a team to rely on.

Finally, you’re going to have to rewire your brain a little bit.

Don’t worry, I promise it won’t hurt. When you lose confidence, you get scared. You hold back. You cut corners. You make half-hearted efforts.

But no more.

  • The next time you find yourself saying “I have to” instead say “I choose to”
  • Instead of saying “I’m not sure”, say “I’ll make the best choice possible”
  • Instead of “I’ll give it a shot”, “I’ll do whatever it takes to make things happen”

You can do all that right? Of course you can. You’re looking better already.

Remember that we’re all here for a very short time. No point in wasting it on feeling sorry for yourself and playing small. Find that fighting spirit and reclaim your place in the Universe – a fierce competitor who hustles, plays fair and won’t let you down.

Chin up man – and I’ll see you out there.

Strong Regards,

PS – Two additional videos for ya.

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and advocate for Asian American men. He's written extensively and spoken all over the world about how individuals and organizations develop their competitive advantage. Follow him at @jasonshen.

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Leave a Reply

  1. @annedreshfield Thanks Anne! I was going to write a more typical “5 ways to get more confidence” but then I decided to try a different approach. Glad you liked it!

  2. @jasonshen You took a very unique approach to this, and I think it works well. I’ve found a lot of your self-improvement tips to be very useful, and interesting. I find myself coming back everyday just to read new posts. Keep at it man!

  3. You’re totally pumping me up. Have I told you that I’ve re-read Winning Isn’t Normal a couple of times before I did something hardcore, like set up a new exercise routine?

    About that awesome Heather Dorniden video – I’ve got an event more extreme example of that for you. Check out the story of Lasse Virén, the Finnish long-distance runner that fell during the 12th lap of the 10k finals in the 1972 Olympics and came back to not only win the gold but also set a world record time! It’s an unbeaten time in one sense – no one has ever run faster on that track since, almost 40 years later.

    Even with the grainy video and cheesy music, you can see him drop the hammer in the last 200m where the entire field gets dropped except for one hanger on that dies in the last 50 or so.

  4. @AlAbut I love the video and thanks for the comment.

    It proves that so much of winning is mental. I read an article about researchers interviewing gold medalists and asking about their physical and mental conditioning. Almost everyone said that they were physically conditioned years before the won. It was when they got the mental conditioning right that they were able to make it happen.Bottom line: you may already have the skills and strength necessary to succeed, but you need to make sure your mental game is strong.

  5. @jasonshen That’s so true. I don’t know why I never thought of this before, but I wonder what it’d be like to hire a sports psychologist for business and career training?

    There’s a book along those lines written by former sports psychologists that looks promising and has great Amazon reviews, called The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.

    I read a sample chapter on the Kindle app and it totally sucked me in, like this one hardcore initial part where you give quizzes to friends and family to answer honest questions about you. Oh man, not sure if I’d want to hear that :)

  6. Hey Jason, I want to thank you for this. I happened upon this post just after I was informed by a company I was applying to that they decided not to offer a job to me due to all of the job switching that has so far defined my career. I was just beginning to question myself, to think there was something wrong with me for having gotten to this point. Then I found this post which seemed to be speaking directly to me, and I’m feeling better already. So again, thank you.

  7. There wasn’t a time more appropriate for you two write this post. Thank you so much. It really got through.

  8. @charleseff Thank you Charles. I’m glad my article could be of service. I’m sorry to hear about how the company has treated you, but I hope you stay motivated and keep hustling to find a place that will accept you for who you are.

  9. Hello Jason!

    I found lots of inspirational words and advice here and I truly impress you for being positive. Giving up for me is an imagination, well, that’s only for me. Quitters never win actually.

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