Self belief and the art of confidence by Dr. Richard Bandler

Richard Bandler was asked by one of his mentees, an architect, how to have more self belief. His answer is fascinating.

Richard Bandler: When I started there was me, a manual typewriter in a room with a leaky roof and a few clients that didn't know what the fuck to do with their life, and everybody had given up on them. I went from that to being able to do more and more, because there's a part of me that is - what would be the perfect word - relentless. I think it's a characteristic that a lot of people don't nurture in themselves. They think of it as being impolite. You can be relentless and sometimes you'll be impolite and sometimes you'll be polite. But it's one thing to say I have confidence, it's another to be so sure about it that you just look at everything in your way as a temporary obstacle.

Remember, I was told in the beginning, "You're not a psychologist, you're not allowed to see patients," and I said, "No, I'm not a psychologist, I'm not allowed to do what psychologists do," - and I don't. I don't fix anybody. All I ever do is educate people.

In America we're allowed freedom of speech. We're not allowed much else any more but we're allowed freedom of speech. I took advantage of that. I took advantage of it because I knew when people were failing at things, it felt bad. I knew that the greatest resource I would have would be the very people telling me what I couldn't do - the psychiatrists because all they had to see was one bloody thing that was outside the scope of what they could believe.

So I chose, out of all the possibilities, to work initially with phobias because it was so convincing. It wasn't the most important thing I could have done at the time but it was the one where... when you get a schizophrenic to act very normal, it's not terribly convincing because all the shrinks go, "He's going to go back." But when you put somebody with a height phobia in an elevator that's all glass and take him up 70 storeys, they just shut the fuck up and they turn around and go, "How the fuck did you do that so quick?"

So, to me, I not only looked at what I was doing that worked, I looked for that thing that would convince people so they would get out of my way and allow me to do whatever I wanted to do. It's what drew the crowds. What drew the crowds wasn't the really important things I was doing, it was the few demonstrations of what just flabbergasted them. I still do it to this day. I start my seminars by putting on a few demonstrations to show people that the impossible is possible.

Certainly, when you start talking about architecture, good lord, every rule they ever thought about architecture has been violated. I mean you can show people pictures of buildings that are not supposed to stand and they do. You can show people pictures of things that have stood for 5,000 years without power tools. I mean that's so phenomenal, that should really get people to say, "Now that we have power tools and glues and cements and bolts and nuts, we should be building such elegant things that are a tribute to the future."

I mean, when you look at the skyline of London, I always think about the architects - who decided to put the pickle in the middle of London? I'm sure when they showed that to people they went, "It doesn't go in London." And the Eye. I was at The Savoy, I used to live at The Savoy and I remember when they brought that big wheel down The Thames in a barge and the first time they put it up it fell off. It almost sunk the barge for God's sake. They put that sucker back up and people are going, "Wow, you're going to ride on it?" and I said, "I've already seen it fall down once, I'm not going up there."

I'm still suspicious but now suddenly, because the brain's job is to make everything familiar, people can't imagine taking it down. They only rented that by the way, the Eye. It was only supposed to be there for like eight years. Nobody's going to take that fucker down because everybody is used to seeing it. If they look at it now, they'll go, "Something's missing."

So, what was inconceivable at one time becomes the rule. You have to make it familiar first by astounding people, by convincing them that the impossible is possible. That's easy because that's the history of civilisation by the way. Everything we have ever said is impossible in civilisation so far has been accomplished. They said, "It's impossible us trying to fly," "It's impossible us trying to go to the moon," that's all you hear. All the tall buildings they built were not supposed to be able to stand. Other than the Twin Towers being hit by two aircraft, I mean even one aircraft didn't bring the whole thing down. That's not really the fault of the buildings, that's the fault of the fact that if a plane flew over New York City, they should have shot it down anyway, just for the principle of the thing. I'm sure there are people in the military that worried about it. When that first plane hit the towers, they should have shot everything down that was near New York City. There shouldn't have been a second plane but it took too much to convince them.

Your job is going to be to convince people that your talents and your skills are exceptional. Do you believe they are? - You're waiting too long to answer that. That's not very convincing. Even if you're not sure, I want you to learn to go, "Yes, absolutely."
Questioner: Yes, absolutely.
Richard Bandler: That's the answer I want to hear. So, are your skills exceptional?
Questioner: Yes, absolutely, sir.
Richard Bandler: That's right. That's the right answer. You're trying to sell your wares to the people in South America, that's not going to work by going, "Er." You've got to go in and you've got to go, "Look, you need to see the future and the future is brilliant." The future is going to have big buildings in it. South America is not going to remain the country it is, it's like the rest of the world, it's going to evolve. Dubai is great but it's in a horrible fucking place. Look at all the lovely places in South America. We could put beautiful buildings and beautiful places for people to live and work and listen to music. In Japan there's a building they built, it's called the Pan Auditorium, Panasonic built it. You can walk in and it's acoustically perfect.

A musician friend of mine went there and he had everybody in the audience write down three composers and throw their name in a box. He plucked out two of them and wrote a piece of music that sounded just like that composer on the fly. It was recorded in that auditorium perfectly. He did a piece of Beethoven music that Beethoven never played but could have written.

When people walked out of the auditorium, they had it on CD recorded, sealed, with a cover on it. That's a magical experience for a musical night to have occurred in 1992. It would be a miracle for it to happen now. The person who conceived of that auditorium where people played and you walked out with a packaged CD in your hand, and all the walls are speakers. There aren't speakers on the wall, the walls are all speakers. So it's acoustically perfect no matter where you're sitting. Everything in the building was built to create a magical experience.

I'm sure that architect had a tough time selling it, because people will go, "Well why do we need to make the CDs? We should cut this cost." He constantly had to look down and he goes, "You either want something magical that's the best in the world or you want an office building."

It's all done with analogue. Do you want something that excites people and is memorable? Do you want your clients to come in and from the moment it gets there to be a magical experience or do you want an office building? You see, you either create magic in the world or you add to the mundane crap that's already there. You can make money doing both but it's like when I ask my clients, I go, "If you want to pay me by the hour, I'm very expensive and I'll do nothing. You want to change then your ass is on the line and it will cost you a lot but you'll be here once and you'll never fucking forget it."

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