Confident people say…

It happens like this. Your co-worker comes strolling down the hallway and peers around the corner at you. You look up, annoyed by the interruption. She then quickly asks, “I was not able to finish my report for the boss. Can you wrap it up for me?”

Time slows. You are now thinking about how to respond, but nothing feels quite right. So, as always, you say, “Sure.”

You might say “Sure” because you really should help. But most often, this is not the case. “Sure” often comes from a place of defense — a need to please and be liked by the right people.

But let me share a secret. We often say “Sure” because we lack confidence to say and do what we know is right. When it comes to confidence, those who have it always seem to shine, while those who are meek and afraid are taken advantage of.

I am referring to the type of confidence that gives us internal fortitude, not the outlandish bravado that some show to mask deep fears. Confidence is easier said than internalized; it usually develops over time, with practice, patience, and perseverance. But there is no doubt that to succeed in life, it is a must.

So, do you know the one word that confident people say most? It’s obvious when you think about it — that word is, “NO.”

Here are a few reasons that saying, “No” can help you be your best and those around achieve as well. It’s also why confident people are not afraid of the word.

Reaffirms your priorities

The most confident people plan ahead. They have clear goals and know what it takes to get there. This helps them prioritize what is important in their lives — and ignore what does not align with their goals. Every “Yes” should align with these goals; if something does not, the answer is “No.”

Sets clear expectations

The word “Yes” is often said out of obligation. The problem is that “Yes (wo)men” tend to make promises that they can not always deliver on. Frequently, they fail to get every job done. If you do this, it damages the confidence and trust that your team will start to place in you. And when real chances to shine arise, you will be passed over.

Broadcasts your value

We all know the stars whom we can count on to produce great work with a positive attitude. We rely on them. Saying, “No” to irrelevant requests reminds people that you are important, have clear priorities, and your work matters. You do not have time to focus on less important efforts.

The most confident people know who they are and how they add value. They don’t need to prove their self worth by saying yes to every request that is made of them.

We all get paid to set boundaries and clearly communicate what we should work on. This is what confident people do best. The next time someone asks you for a favor, do not blindly accept it without questioning its value. Over time, this habit will make you great and increase your confidence that every day you are getting even better

Are Americans dumb?

Glad you asked. I grew up in the States, and have lived here in Europe for the past 14 years, so I think I might be able to answer your question.

First of all, we must talk about GDP: the US clearly does not hold first place. That honor goes to Luxembourg, where I live. The US ranks 10th in the world. Furthermore, it’s not too hard to have the highest GDP in the world when you print the world’s reserve currency. This has more to do with winning WWII than it does with the average IQ of the nation.

Now, here are some reasons:

– In the US, more than half the population (depending on the poll) rejects evolutionary theory in favor of the explanation offered by whatever religious group they happen to belong to. This number is higher by far than in any other industrialized nation. Likewise, climate change is still discussed as if the reality of it is an open question.

– Most high school students can barely be called that, as they spend most of their energies socializing, attending pep rallies and sporting events, selecting the most qualified candidates for student government, and hanging out of their phones. Every college-bound European student, by contrast, must necessarily complete a BAC, which a rigorous program that is equivalent to about two years of college in the US. School has no other function than to educate.

– In Europe, it is acceptable to have a conversation about some aspect of philosophy, art, or history at a keg party. In the US, raising such a topic is more likely to elicit blank stares and derision.

– Americans seem obsessed with making money. This might go some way to explaining the “highest GDP” claim, and it also explains the general lack of sophistication among Americans regarding non-lucrative subjects such as math, history, arts, culture… etc. In the US, the question of how this or that education will lead to more money is raised constantly. I suspect it won’t be long before the subjects above are simply cut from high school curricula.

– Every European nation (save a few such as Luxembourg) is embarrassed to consider itself to be the worst at languages. By this they mean that they have difficulty expressing complex ideas in a foreign language. In the US, speaking only English (and just barely even that) is considered a point of pride.

– The US seems like a cultural wasteland to Europeans, who are used to thousand-year-old cities, museums of art and history, and cultural events in the streets. When Europeans visit the US, they tend to ignore the cities (save New York) in favor of that natural splendor of Yosemite or the Grand Canyon.

– The images projected by American brands overseas are generally devoid of any intellectual aspiration. Disney, Coke, McDonald’s, most Hollywood movies, much of pop music… all of them seem to cater to the lowest common denominator.

– Europeans value careful deliberation and subtlety in thinking. Americans are perceived as being slow to think and quick to act.

– Americans are seen as loud and proud. They can be obnoxious, and have a bizarre tendency to claim to be “the best country in the world” (viz. this question). Also, they tend to dress like slobs.

– A vast majority of Americans (about 80%) have never traveled beyond their borders, and many don’t seem to care to.

– The virulent religosity that is pervasive in society. Europeans think it’s weird the way we write “In God we Trust” on our money… and now, on police vehicles.

– The flagrant nationalism and frequent assertions of being “the best”, which strikes Europeans as conceited and undignified.

– The food, which is perceived as utterly unsophisticated, if not total junk. This may largely be due to the fact that international brands like McDonalds and Pizza Hut are the only exposure many Europeans have to American dining habits, but I think there is some truth to it.

– Guns. While I will reserve my opinion on this topic, I can say that most Europeans unequivocally see no purpose in allowing citizens to carry guns. They see the US as a gun-crazed, violent place where gangs and deranged highschoolers shoot at random people for fun. Huh, blame Hollywood, I suppose.

Yes, I’ve been tremendously unfair, and I know it. Stupidity is about evenly distributed in the world, and to be sure, we have our share here, too. To be fair, one could easily make an equally long list of American perceptions of European stupidity.
But Americans have their own special brand of it.

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