Have you ever gone into an audition or performance situation where you’re feeling pretty good about what you’re about to play or sing?
You’ve practiced. You’ve prepared. And then she walks in…
She looks perfect. She looks totally relaxed and confident. You just know she’s going to throw your performance under the bus and stomp on it with her perfectly manicured toes.
Wait! Where did your confidence go? It was just right here!
Is it in your bag? Nope. Stuck between the pages of your music books? Nu-uh.
Oh wait! There it goes! Some hooded figure tossed a bag over its head and rushed out the back door with it!
What just happened?! Who was that??
You hear a wicked laugh, which you’d recognized anywhere…
Confidence vs Comparison
When you compared yourself to the person who you felt was better than you, that act of comparison kidnapped your confidence and ran off with it faster than you could say “huh?”
Confidence and comparison cannot coexist. (Oh! Look at all those C-words! I love accidental alliterations, which "accidental alliteration" was not, that one was intentional.)
“Well, what if I compare myself to someone that I’m better than? Won’t that make me feel more confident?”
Nope! It certainly will not.
When you compare yourself to someone that you think you’re better than, you just get prideful and cocky and maybe start acting like a bit of a jerk. I’m not naming names here, I’m just sayin’ if the shoe fits, kick it off and find some better shoes.
Really, though. Think about it.
Do you feel confident and poised when you compare yourself to someone that you’re better than?
Not really. You become kind of smug and a bit rude.
The Confidence Multiplication System
Okay, so how should we approach situations, especially naturally competitive ones like auditions and competitions, with confidence and not comparison?
Well, it depends on how you’re feeling about the so-called competition.
If you’re feeling like everyone else is better than you are, you can maintain your confidence by doing one, two, or all three of the following:
1. Appreciate their hard work.
This person clearly put a lot of work into their appearance and their performance. Instead of feeling intimidated by that hard work, appreciate it.
It’s said that hard work beats talent every time when talent doesn’t work hard. Anyone can work hard. Yes, anyone. Even you! Which brings me to my second point.
2. Appreciate your hard work.
You did work hard, didn’t you? You didn’t? Well, no wonder you don’t feel confident about your performance today. It’s not the other person’s fault.
Oh, wait. You did work hard? Good for you!
If you worked hard and you bring your best to this audition or competition, who cares what the other people do? All you can do is work your hardest and bring your best and leave it up to the judges to decide.
You may think that you’re not as good as another person is, but the judges may be looking for things that you did not even realize you had!
3. Compliment them.
If you’re feeling intimidated by the competition, take a moment to compliment them on something – their outfit, their hair, their bag, or their performance if you had a chance to hear it.
If they’re a pretty cool person like you are (I know you are because you’re still reading this), they will appreciate your compliment and may return the favor, which would be a total boost to your confidence and theirs! Win-win!
You just multiplied the available confidence in the room! Well done!
What if you’re feeling like the most talented person in the room who other people are intimidated by? How can you remain cool and humble instead of cocky and rude? I’m so glad you asked!
1. Compliment someone else.
When you take the time to compliment another performer, you accomplish that confidence-multiplication thing and boost their confidence as well as yours! I mean, do you ever feel less confident after you’ve paid someone a genuine compliment?
You know how it feels to be scared and intimidated by other seemingly more talented musicians. How would you feel if one of those awesome musicians came by and told you that you were doing a good job?
Amazing. That’s how you’d feel!
2. Encourage someone else.
This is similar to point 1, but if you cannot honestly find something positive to compliment the other person on, you can make something up!
Wait, no. We want to remain honest here, guys.
Instead of complimenting them on something, you could give them a bit of encouragement. Something as simple as “Hey! I hope you do well in there!” can really do a lot to encourage a newcomer to the industry or someone who looks really nervous.
But seriously, if you can't find something to compliment them on, you're not trying very hard.
3. Share some advice.
This must be done from a point of genuine care and humility, lest you come across as a know-it-all, which is not the goal here. If you see someone doing something that you used to do before an audition or performance, you could approach them using the Feel-Felt-Found method, which goes like this.
“I used to FEEL nervous when I came to auditions like these.
I FELT that if I did not do my absolute best, my life and career would be over before it began.
I FOUND that even the worst audition is quickly forgotten by everyone else and would not be harmful to my career as a whole. As a matter of fact, terrible auditions can be quite beneficial if you view them as a learning experience. I’ve had my fair share of bad auditions, and here I am today, still performing!”
Once again, all three of these things serve to multiply the confidence of both people in the situation.
Comparison will always wreck your confidence, whether you're comparing yourself to someone better or worse than you are.
It’s best instead to appreciate everyone’s hard work – including your own - and to encourage and compliment the performers around you.
This results in that awesome confidence multiplication that we talked about twice already.
Side benefit: In addition to everything mentioned thus far, when you compliment, encourage, or share some advice, you just might make a new friend, and Lord knows we musicians need all the friends we can get.
Speaking of friends, I have so enjoyed meeting new people from all over the world on Instagram! If you’d like to be my friend on Instagram, look me up @confidentmusicians! I’m always up for meeting new musician and non-musician friends!
Now go forth multiply confidence wherever you are!