Monday, August 29, 2011

I can make you confident: The power to go for anything you want!

By Paul McKenna

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

I put on the CD that accompanies the book as I began to read it.  Interestingly, it offers a soothing background for reading: a soft voice (almost a whisper) that is ongoing and comforting, music that is truly ethereal and subtle, ideas that are reinforcing, positive, and confidence-inducing, and an echo (at times) or a double voice that sounds almost ghostly.  (Using a microphone with speakers that offer a heavy bass, I often role play the voice of a ghost at Halloween, so I know exactly what a ghost should sound like! —said with a smile on my face!)   I was intrigued from the outset.

Now, I have to admit that I am not one who needs more confidence, and I would never be the one who would approach McKenna at one of his public performances and say, “I’m just not a confident person.”  Nonetheless, the title of the book and the CD intrigued me.

I was caught, too, with one of his marginal boxes (I use a plethora of marginal boxes in my textbook with McGraw-Hill, Communicating Effectively, so being “caught” is not at all unusual.).  On page 15, he quotes Aristotle as saying, “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence than is not an act, but a habit.”  I might use that quotation in a future edition of my textbook.  Another marginal quote that caught my attention was by Sir John Lubbock: “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”

His choices for marginal quotes, for the most part, added interest (for me) to his book, for there are no footnotes, no references, no suggested readings, no bibliography, and no other sources cited of any kind (except for the marginal boxes).  He uses numerous personal experiences for his support or the experiences shared with him by others.

Thus, so far, I have been swept up by this book and CD!  But a warning is necessary: This is simply and forthrightly a book (and CD) designed to plant the “seeds of confidence, self-belief, and motivation” (p. 1) — nothing more.  That is McKenna’s goal and purpose.

Although the book is about 213 pages long, it is really much shorter than that because there are wide margins, and the lines are almost double-spaced (about 1 3/4ths spaces apart).

The main ideas with which McKenna deals are developing the confidence habit, motivation, and confidence in the real world.  Because of my interest in public speaking, I paid special attention to pages 164-172.  He says “there are only three things you need to do in order to feel easy and comfortable making powerful presentations in front of even the largest group: 1. Manage your state.  2. Know your content.  3. Speak with passion” (p. 164).  And I would totally agree; however, that is precisely the problem.  People are unable to manage their emotions, they do not know their content well-enough (often, they think they do!), and because of their negative emotions (fear), their
passion becomes muted — sapped.  To help him find passion before he speaks, McKenna recommends asking yourself two simple questions: 1) What is the essence of my message to the audience? and 2) What experience do I want them to have from listening to my talk? (p. 170).

The essence of what McKenna does is to use NLP (neurolinguistic programming) and hypnosis to change mindsets — to plant the seeds of change.  He has you imagine positive situations (even create movies that illustrate concrete, encouraging, and supportive behaviors), and then he has you step into those situations and take on the behaviors you have imagined.

If you lack confidence in yourself, if you are looking for motivation to do the things you want to do, if you need help to overcome the fear of public speaking, poor business performance, problems in dating and sex, or in how to leave bad situations, then this book may offer you some assistance.  Much of your success will depend on your own ability, persistence, and desire, but isn’t that the true story of our lives?  We can depend on teachers, facilitators, and mentors for only so long, then changing any behavior at all is up to us.

This book can be found at I can make you confident: The power to go for anything you want!

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