In the Profiles in Confidence series I interview writers, bloggers and other guys who have generously agreed to share their stories, struggles, secrets and tips about using self-improvement to build self-confidence.
The series is designed to let you learn from their struggles, and provide a reminder that you’re not the only guy out there working to improve himself. Quite the opposite, actually: you’re surrounded by like-minded friends and brothers in arms.
In the latest instalment, personal branding coach, YouTuber and founder of Masculine Style Tannery Guzy discusses the role clothing plays in a man’s confidence, valuing internal recognition more than external, and building self-confidence through small wins.
On a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being extremely low self-esteem and 10 being a Tony Robbins-level of confidence and self-worth – how would you rate your self-confidence right now?
I’m honestly at a 10. Sure I have days or even weeks where I may doubt the path I’m on or a decision I’m making, but none of that affects my self worth.
I know who I am and where my value comes from and it’s a huge benefit to be aware of that every day.
On the same scale of 1 to 10, what would you say your lowest number was? Where and when did your self-confidence bottom out?
There was a time right out of high school in which I was probably a four or five. I had just experienced my first real heartbreak, was at odds with my parents, and living with a bunch of guys who had zero respect for me.
There was a bunch of dissonance between who I was, who I thought I wanted to be, and who I really could become.
On your website, you write about how you went from wearing BMX-brand t-shirts to wearing a suit and tie to work everyday. I’m wondering what role confidence played in that transformation. Did you start to dress better because you felt more confident, or did you start to feel more confident after you started dressing better? (Or maybe the answer lies somewhere in between…?)
I’ve always been sensitive to the role our clothing plays in our confidence. I remember feeling very self-conscious around my neighborhood friends because they didn’t have to wear a uniform to school and I did.
For me, being able to make the move into BMX shirts and more punk rock attire was a huge boost in confidence. However, I eventually grew beyond those identities and found myself feeling stagnant because I still dressed like that.
The same thing happened recently. I don’t wear suits every day anymore because my work no longer requires it. My recent changes in style are reflective of my new position in life and they’ve helped me see myself as a different man when I look in the mirror. I still love a good suit, but I only where it when it’s appropriate – not as a personal uniform.
During this period – when you were in the process of going from your lowest level of confidence to your current level – what challenges, pitfalls or fears did you face?
The biggest challenge was seeking validation from external factors. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be valued by other people, but that shouldn’t be where our sense of worth comes from. Nor should we give that power to just anyone.
My first roommates in college are not the kind of men I want to identify with now and I couldn’t care less if they think I’m an idiot or not. It was learning to find my own sense of worth, and then finding the right people to help support that, that was the biggest obstacle.
And how did you find your own sense of worth and propel yourself to the level you’re at now? What was that journey like for you?
I just kept moving forward. Some people have a big epiphany in which their whole lives change, but that wasn’t the case for me. It was a slow transition in which I was able to take the small wins in my life and use those to build up my own confidence and self worth.
By doing so, I started to repel the people that were bad for me and attract the people who were good for me. Eventually the momentum of my confidence stopped working against me and started working for me.
Is there anything that you continue to do on an ongoing basis to beat back your fears and overcome obstacles?
My wife and I reinforce in our kids every day that “Guzy’s do hard things” and that’s just as much a reminder for us as it is for them. Self respect comes from accomplishment and accomplishment only comes when we challenge ourselves.
There are plenty of days when I all I want to do is turn on the Xbox and get lost in a video game for 10 hours. But I think of the example that sets for my kids and how important it is that I create a legacy for them to follow. The pressure of being the head of the household is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and feeling that mantle every day is what helps me remember that fear, doubt, and laziness are luxuries I can’t afford to embrace anymore.
If you could go back to make the journey from low-confidence to high-confidence again, what would you do differently?
I’d remember that my dignity is something that is incredibly easy to lose and equally as difficult to regain. Letting emotions run my life because a girl broke my heart, friend betrayed me, or roommate used me is for children. The things that other people do to me don’t define my worth, the way I handle them does.
What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out on the path toward confidence?
Earn it. You can’t find or be given confidence. You have to earn it. Start today by doing something that’s difficult and uncomfortable. Go to the gym. Talk to a girl. Dress better. These are small things but they help you get familiar with discomfort and eventually start to embrace it.
Any parting shots relating to self-confidence or self-improvement you’d like to share?
Confidence comes from balancing authenticity and aspiration. You don’t want to act like something you’re not – that’s being fake and phoney and it’s really easy to spot men who are like that.
At the same time, you don’t want to remain stagnant and mediocre and hide it under the name of “authenticity.” Be authentic to the best version of yourself, not just the current one.
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More Profiles in Confidence:
- Grooming Yourself to Be Great, with Khoi Nguyen of The Gentleman Within
- Defining Your Goals & Mastering Self-Efficacy, with Myke Macapinlac of Social Confidence Mastery
- Controlling What You Can & Giving Yourself a Reason to Feel Confident, with Brock McGoff of The Modest Man
- Facing Your Fears & Learning to Leap with Keith Lai, Founder of FitMole.org
- Getting Out of Your Own Head and Becoming Your Best Self with Kyle Ingham of The Distilled Man
Irreverent Gent founder Dave Bowden is a men’s style specialist, an Amazon bestselling author, an unrepentant introvert, a (patient, if long-suffering) Toronto sports fan and the husband of a wonderful (and fortunately much more patient) wife.