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Confidence with Michael McDonnell

Today we’re hearing from a young man who has overcome a great deal of adversity, to now be an expert in his field – confidence. It’s a great story.

Michael McDonnell on The Next 100 Days Podcast with hosts Graham Arrowsmith and Kevin Appleby

Michael’s journey to confidence

For Michael, it started from 2 months old. Michael was born with Cystic Fibrosis, which meant his body overproduced (and overproduces) mucus. This causes complications for his lungs and digestive system (in the main).

At the time, there wasn’t a lot of information on Cystic Fibrosis. And yet, Michael’s parents had to become experts in the field. This lead to their being controlling (although for the right reasons) in regard to where Michael could go, who he could see, etc. However, that obviously puts a lot of pressure on someone when you’re restricted greatly. Especially with confidence.

Throughout Michael’s teenage years, he had cycles of feeling fine and so deciding he wouldn’t take his medication (being rebellious if you will), and returning to medication when his condition was bad. The realisation he came to is this: it’s not about the doing but the outcome if you stopped doing something. Also, understanding his condition for himself was a major player in gaining confidence with his condition and taking the medication.

Confidence issues

Naturally, being ‘the odd one out’ at school has huge implications for your confidence and wellbeing. This was exactly the case for Michael.

When we talk about overcoming our insecurities, there’s talk about the stories we tell ourselves that aren’t actually true. However, a lot of the stories were true for Michael. He couldn’t do certain things because of the conditions and that was a tangible and dangerous reality for him; the conditions weren’t necessarily going to get better. Therefore, Michael had to navigate a lot of these situations on his own, He had to figure out what conditions were okay, what weren’t and how to overcome them in each scenario.

Funnily enough (and I can relate to this), Michael has realised through lockdown that he is not as introverted as he thought he was. Lockdown has had a huge personal benefit as it has allowed the time for self inspection and understanding.

What do you do now?

One of the things Michael spends the majority of the time dealing with is helping business owners. Especially if they’re online business owners, they can often hide because they’re not needed to be seen. They can take a handful of photos and that’s it! However, what people can often do is stay in their own heads with thoughts of being invisible. There’s so much demand online that there are so many competitors. But, what needs to be done is to put yourself out within your niche and to make yourself desirable. You can’t be desirable if you’re invisible.

Michael’s ability to be confident on camera and to be available and present online comes from his personal growth. At first, he was a robot on camera. He had scripts, he dresses up, his eyes would wander and his attention was all over the place. In essence, Michael wasn’t any good at doing the things he can do brilliantly now – videos, podcasts, public speaking.

What is it about confidence that most of us don’t know?

There’s a bit of a misconception around it because most people who you think are confident are just being themselves. However, that’s a half-solution because it implies that you can only be confident – or have the permission be – if you’re made a certain way.

Confidence can be seen as a black and white concept but the truth is, a lot of us can be confident but still like our time away from the world. We can be quietly confident or be extroverted and bubbly-confident. It’s a spectrum and it’s a combination depending on your personality and how you feel.

How do you help someone become confident?

Firstly, Michael tries to meet his clients where they are – he will bring up scenarios and stories that they will relate to. If you can’t relate to your clients, you can’t join the dots. And you can’t join the dots if you don’t try to understand the dots in the first place. Being vulnerable and sharing more of who we are to each other makes conversations and empathy more productive.

Step one would probably be helping others to be comfortable in the situation, until it’s no longer emotional. Because it’s the emotion of it that makes it a bigger deal than it actually is.

How do you help people?

Being confident starts with being who you are and knowing who you are. Often the fear of being judged doesn’t come from others – it’s because we are quick to judge ourselves. What Michael does is help business owners grow confidence in their side hustle and become visible as a result.

Michael’s avatar:

  • Someone who has an occupation but might also have a part time job, often to support family.
  • Generally runs of referrals, but realises they can’t keep up doing what they’re doing. They want to scale it in a particular way.
  • This means going online but they’ve tried social media and online marketing. They have realised there are a number of other businesses to theirs and need something ‘extra’ to be desirable.

The next 100 days to build up confidence

The first 1-7 days would be to spend time in an environment in which you are safe in. If you want to do videos, for example, then you’re in a space that is private and comfortable.

Start safe first. Then, chip away at the uncomfortable.

From that, build on that safe environment. For example, if you were wanting to be a public speaker and have been thus far talking to an empty room, put your family in as the audience.

If you want a slice of what Michael is offering, you can find him on Facebook at I am Mike McDonnell.