How To Be Confident When You’re Not

“No matter how bad things get, they’re never so bad that we can’t take tiny steps towards our goals – provided that we have some goals.”

I asked Josh Hanagarne, aka the World’s Strongest Librarian<--more-->, to write a guest post on confidence for us. I think he’s got a lot to teach us about being confident because, although he has Tourette’s syndrome, Josh is getting on with life and making a success of himself.

So what makes Josh stand out from the crowd?

Apart from being 6 foot 8″, suffering from Tourette’s syndrome makes him blink and twitch unexpectedly. At times his symptoms have been so bad that he once got a hernia from the abdominal pressure caused by repeated screaming.

Tourette’s syndrome has made Josh hit himself, throw hot soup in his face and he once nearly lost an eye once when he jabbed it with a fork. As a means of controlling these symptoms, Josh has taken up weight lifting but still manages to hold down a day job as a librarian.

I think he might be the most interesting librarian in the world as well as the strongest, and he’s funny too. There some great insights into life in general and a few interesting lessons on confidence for us here, so without further ado, I give you Josh Hanagarne.

How To Be Confident When You Aren’t

By Josh Hanagarne, World’s Strongest Librarian

I’m fantastic during job interviews, which is interesting, because I’m hardly ever qualified for the jobs I apply for. I can tie my shoes but that’s about it.

I usually get hired—then I spend the next month racing around trying to get up to speed before anyone notices.

I recently polled several people who interviewed me in the past. I asked why they had hired me.

Most of them mentioned confidence and attitude. This is also interesting – because of my health situation, I don’t feel confident very often. I spend every day fighting my own body. I literally cannot control myself, which can make confidence hard to come by.

But they also have said, “You seem to know what you want.”

Arrogance Is Not Confidence

I know many people who substitute arrogance for confidence. They swagger like Mick Jagger and roll over the top of everyone like bulldozers on steroids.

Confidence is more than talking smooth and fast. It’s more than eye contact and a firm handshake. It isn’t having a perfect life and it certainly isn’t about being aggressive or overpowering.

If I am confident, I believe it comes from having goals that I care about. My family, writing, physical activities, and love of people in general all give me purpose.

That…and the pursuit of humility. How odd to say that humility might lead to confidence. But it is precisely when I realize how insignificant my problems are—and how much I have to be grateful for – that I’m able to get myself back on track.

You can do the same. We all can.

No matter how bad things get, they’re never so bad that we can’t take tiny steps towards our goals – provided that we have some goals.

When You Are Winning, It’s Easier To Be Confident

When you are moving forward, even the worst days can be small triumphs.

I don’t have the scale handy, but I believe a lot of small victories eventually add up to huge victories.

If you don’t have a destination, it’s harder to have a purpose. Without goals, I scramble to find my foundation when things fall apart. Confidence is easier to find when you know you’re making progress.

This isn’t to say that the destination is everything. I’m not talking about single-minded obsessions that make the scenery invisible along the way. But there is stability in knowing what direction you’re pointed in.

Because I always have something to fall back on, I never get too stressed out when calamities pop up. Disappointed, but not out of commission and never out

Those suckers who have all hired me sense this, in one way or another. Hopefully they’ll never catch on.

Do you know where you’re going? Do you know why you’re going there?

About the Author: Josh Hanagarne writes World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog with advice about coping with Tourette’s Syndrome, book recommendations, buying pants when you’re 6’8”, old-time strongman training, kettlebells, and much more. Please subscribe to Josh’s RSS Updates and Stronger, Smarter, Better Newsletter to stay in touch.

Thanks for reading and thanks to Josh for sharing this story with us.

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  1. Robin Dickinson September 12, 2009 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Josh, thanks for your wisdom and experience.

    I can really relate to your point that “a lot of small victories eventually add up to huge victories”.

    These incremental gains are often more satisfying than the ‘big prize’ at the end. They also keep you centred more in the present moment (the only moment ;) ).

    A life spent waiting until ‘one’s ship comes in’ isn’t a life, it’s a kind of limbo land where we ignore the beauty of the little wins along the way.

    Here’s to marveling at life’s scenery along the way.

    Best to you Josh,


    • Annabel Candy September 12, 2009 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks for adding more great insights, Robin. Quite a co-incidence too that you say “Here’s to marveling at life’s scenery along the way.” I am right this moment penning an article about just that following a mountain climb we did in the hinterland recently! Thanks for reading and commenting, it’s great having you on board.

  2. Steve September 13, 2009 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel – good stuff again. Good to see you whilst out running on Saturday – Steve –

  3. Positively Present September 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    Great post, Josh, and I’m so happy that this guest post lead me to yet another great website. :) Thank you!

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