Confidence. Real success in life-the kind that leaves one feeling genuinely fulfilled on many levels-cannot be achieved without it. But how do we attain the confidence levels needed to realize our life's potential? Is confidence something that is learned, or does it exist naturally in some people while others have to make do with their lot in life.
According to model, bodybuilder, personal trainer and regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com, Anthony Catanzaro, we can all have the kind of confidence levels that propel certain individuals to greatness. For Anthony, a determined mindset, positive attitude and belief in God are critical factors in all he has achieved.
The energy, and passion, he has for what he does is infectious and serves as motivation for those who know him best. Let's face it. We all would like to be the best at what we do. Projecting confidence and maintaining a positive attitude will contribute greatly to this aim.
The following interview is compulsory reading for those who would like to improve their confidence levels and those who are sufficiently confident but would like to gain that all important edge.
Anthony Catanzaro is a man who has worked his way to the top through consistent effort and attention to the importance of confidence. We could all learn a thing or two from what he has to say on this matter.
[ Q ] Hi Tony. We know of the importance of being motivated, but just how important is confidence when aiming to reach the top?
Hey David! Confidence is key to achieving your goals and dreams! If you don't have confidence in yourself, then you will never see yourself having the things that you want, therefore making it almost impossible to get them. Confidence is the same as believing. When you believe in positive things, you set the tone for what is going to happen in your life.
I remember when I was 8-years-old. I was telling my dad, who worked in the New York City Fulton fish market his whole life, that people would know my name for something special and that I will do something in my life that would inspire people to be their best.
Now at this time I had never even touched a weight or even knew anything about working out. It was my confidence and strong belief in myself that made me who I am today.
[ Q ] Where did your high motivation levels and confidence in your ability to achieve the goals you have set for yourself come from?
I wish I could say that my parents or my family members were confident people, but they weren't. My mother and father were typical Italian parents. My dad was overworked and underpaid and my mom spoke broken English and worked in a factory. When I used to tell them that I would make something of myself they used to smile and tell me, "well you got to have luck," or as my mom would say it "you gotta be locky ontoenee."
I always felt in my heart, its not just luck, it's your belief in yourself. Now, I know a lot of people are reading this now and saying "well I believe in myself, but my parents don't support my decisions, or my friends aren't doing anything with their lives. Or, "I have a dead end job and most people aren't happy with their lives and with their relationships so that's how life is."
I want you to know that other people aren't in the driver seat of your life. You have to take control of your own destiny. What I'm trying to say is this:
with others who are going nowhere,
you can always get out and take the bus!"
Because of my beliefs, I have a beautiful wife that would die for me, and I'm known to many people as a confident person that never settled for anything less than what he dreamed of having.
[ Q ] At what age did you know that your dreams would come true? Do people have an "inner spark" that causes them to achieve greatness?
I realized that something special was happening to me at around 8-years-old. I used to pray a lot to a Jesus statue I had in my room. I never knew what it was doing there. I just had it on my shelf. I don't even know where it came from, but it was in my bedroom as a child.
As a lot of you may know, I lost both my parents. At the time I was 8-years-old my father came down with cancer. I remember praying to that statue of Jesus for help that my dad wouldn't die. I think that's when I developed a relationship with God. I want all of you to know that God created each and every one of us for a reason and we need to find that reason.
Look within your heart for that is where the reason is. Praying to that statue worked, and the reason it worked was because I had a belief in Jesus and I knew if I asked for a blessing, it would happen. You see, it was my faith in God that grew in me. My father won his fight over cancer and lived over 20 years after the fact!
Another thing. I am a big fan of Rocky movies and music. I started training at 15-years-old out of my home in Bay Shore Long Island, New York. It was a tiny bedroom I turned into a workout room, all I needed was that rocky cassette tape, and the rest is history.
I still to this day, when I feel less motivated, put that music on and it's like the first day I started lifting. It's like I get baptized every time I play it. It reminds me of the good ole days, with my mom in the kitchen next to that room, cooking away! I can still smell the food!
What I am trying to say is motivation comes deep within the soul. It's a passion, a love. I was destined to change people's lives and motivate them to seek good health. I trust in God and ask him to watch over me and my family. Again, it never hurts to have an angel in your corner!
When you love what you do it is like you are thanking God for his help! People are born with gifts. When you find out what your is, and use it, you will find yourself!
[ Q ] What combination of hard work and natural ability is needed to reach the top, in your view Tony?
Whatever you are looking to do in life, whether it is to become a champion bodybuilder, or a successful business person, you first have to love what you do. You can't do it for money, or to make others jealous or for any other reason. Otherwise, you will not be blessed in it.
What I mean is, money is not happiness. A lot of people believe that money is everything, and the more you have the more respect people will have for you, and the more friends you will have, and so on.
Let me set something straight with you right now. I have never been money rich, nor have I ever been obsessed with it. Remember, money comes and goes, but the impressions you leave on others can last a lifetime. That is why I consider myself one of the richest people I know.
[ Q ] Many people reading this might say "but you have the looks and talent". If someone doesn't have natural looks and talent, how can they improve their confidence and project a more positive image of themselves?
There is something that I always say to others that lack experience, or let's say are not confident in their looks or the talent they have. I tell them the story of the kitten that saw its image in a puddle while drinking water.
The thing was that the kitten did not see a kitten, he saw a lion! You see, the only thing that matters is how you see yourself. Looks, talent and everything else is useless without confidence!
[ Q ] What methods are useful when seeking to improve confidence levels?
Everyone has days when they feel confident and days when they feel like they are falling apart, even myself. A great method I use is to just be yourself. Too many people try to be something they are not to impress others. What usually winds up happening is people can see it right away, no matter how hard you try to hide it.
Take some time and close your eyes. Think of all the things that make you happy, or think of a person that inspires you or better yet, listen to God's inner voice. It is in all of us.
[ Q ] What are some motivational strategies that have and/or currently work for you?
ENERGY! Everything is energy. Your house runs on electricity, your car runs on gasoline, and we run on adrenaline. I myself use everything I have when competing on stage, or if I am training clients or working on a television or modeling gig. You have to have energy.
A lot of people walk around with their heads down and just live day to day miserable in the hope that things will change in their lives. Things will never change unless you believe they will, and act upon that. You have to have the confidence. I you can believe, you can achieve.
[ Q ] Who were some of the key figures in your life that helped you to reach your potential?
That's hard to say because everyone I let into my life was an inspiration for me. Even a homeless person on the street can give you inspiration. Just the other day I was waiting to get a cup of coffee, and there was a homeless person at the back of the line. Well, this person was cold and his eyes were completely bloodshot.
I watched how everyone placed their order and not one person offered to buy him even a cup a coffee to warm him up. When I walked up to place my order, I turned and asked this person if I could get him something. He replied back to me and said "a small black coffee please," after that he said "God bless you."
I told the guy behind the counter give him a cup of coffee and whatever else he wanted on me. Do you know what the counter guy said? He told me, "It's OK, we will help him at no charge to you." What I'm trying to say is nobody helped him until I offered to. You see, you have to make some sort of effort to make things happen. You will be surprised at what happens from there.
[ Q ] Can you think of examples of people who have used their high confidence levels to triumph over adversity?
Here is a funny story. There once were these two frogs and both of them fell into a bowl of heavy cream. So instead of them drowning in it, they both started to paddle.
Well they continued to paddle for hours and hours trying to get out, when one frog just gave up! Unfortunately, this frog drowned, but the other one kept on paddling without stopping, faster and faster, until wouldn't you know it? The frog turned that cream into butter and just climbed on out of there. I think you get the point.
[ Q ] What are some things to avoid when looking to enhance confidence, and a winning attitude?
I said it before and I will say it again: stay away from those who choose to be miserable and who go through life making excuses. They will only latch onto you and bring you down with them. You have to surround yourself with positive thinkers and people who can inspire you. One of my favorite sayings is,
when you hang around the buzzards."
[ Q ] Good point. As with most people, I am sure there are periods in your life where motivation is hard to find. How do you become motivated when your are feeling down?
When I'm feeling down, I'll go downstairs to my home gym, put on some rocky music and hit the speed bag or do some cardio or lift weights. This goes for anybody. The greatest thing to help fight depression is exercise. Your body was not designed to sit behind a desk for 10 hours per day.
It was made to climb mountains and walk miles and miles. I believe the No. 1 cause of depression today is due to lack or exercise and poor diet. I create customized diets for people all around the world. Just click here, I can develop an eating plan for your goals, which you can follow for the rest of your life. It's an investment that will last a lifetime.
[ Q ] What are the main benefits to being confident and motivated?
This is funny because when I walk into the gym, immediately the energy level changes. It would cause what you call electricity in the air. Now this is only because I love to workout and love to help others get motivated. So this is like a field day for me. I would scream out to my friend across the gym, "two more reps, you can do more than that."
What happens then is that I transport my energy over to them, and in return, I receive it back. If you could, you would probably see the electricity in the air. I would even notice older men like 60-or-70-years-old actually working harder it's truly unbelievable. Being confident is everything. Every leader is confident, every president is confident.
[ Q ] Give me some examples from your life where confidence has helped you to achieve greatness?
I'll never forget the time when I entered the 1997 Mr. Fitness contest. I was driven to win. I came in 3rd place the year prior to that. That was the first official contest I ever entered. Well to make a long story short, I was up against 27 other guys. I remember going up to the stage curtain to get ready to go on. I was next!
I immediately started to psych myself up by saying things like "this is my title, I'm taking it all tonight, its mine." I remember the stage manager looking right at me. He said "go for it." He knew I was going to win because I already saw myself winning. And that night, I won my first official contest.
You see, if you can close your eyes and see yourself, in that beautiful home; see yourself driving that beautiful car; see yourself in a relationship where that other person loves you as much as you love them; see yourself with that career you always wanted, and all the other dreams you may have. Dreams can come true if you don't just think of them as dreams. Think of them as a "preview" of what's to come for you.
[ Q ] Speaking of bodybuilding competition. Just before walking on stage at such a contest what is your ritual? What other things do you do to psych yourself up?
Right before I go on stage, I see myself going through the poses and I actually visualize someone much bigger than me, someone I admire.
As many bodybuilders are, I am a true fan of Arnold. I also live by watching the documentary Pumping Iron. In that film, Arnold comes out and goes through his poses with complete confidence and professionalism. What I do before and while I am on the bodybuilding stage; I actually pretend I am him.
As I pose next to my competitors in comparison poses, I think of myself as being twice their size and that there would be no chance for them to beat me. I have to think of myself as unbeatable, and that in return sets off positive energy in my favor. It makes the competitors nervous as well, because some of them have doubts already about themselves. So Arnold was right, you have to do whatever it takes to win.
[ Q ] Onstage at either a modeling show or bodybuilding contest, how do you project a winning impression?
You can see it in someone's eyes. If they have that "eye of the tiger." That's when a person has that focused look about them. It's like when a tiger hunts its prey. It becomes so focused on only one thing, and that's dinner. My winning impression is projected outward with a relaxed and completely confident outlook.
This makes the other competitors crazy because they will look at me and say "why isn't this guy nervous?" What they don't know is that on the inside I'm shaking, but on the outside I'm ready for war.
[ Q ] Great strategy Tony. Give me five tips that will help our readers to create that winning attitude.
- Remove All Doubt:
First of all, get rid of all that doubt that you may have. The greatest battle that we fight is the one in the mirror.
- Love Yourself:
Learn to love yourself, don't make excuses like "well everyone I know is unhappy, and it's normal to just work at a job you hate." No, set your own standards for excellence. You can achieve anything in life if you are confident that you can do it.
- Don't Settle:
You can always do better if you truly feel in your heart that something is not for you, or if you just don't feel right with something, then you are probably right. We have something inside us called instinct. Animals have it as well, but I notice they use it a lot more than we do.
- Prepare For The Future:
Don't listen to others who say "you can't have everything." You cannot plan life. You can, however, prepare yourself for the future, but you cannot plan every step of the way. Life is a gamble sometimes. I always tell people to ride the waves of life. Don't fight against the current because that will only alter your destiny. Keep love first in your heart and God himself will lead you into the direction of your dreams.
- Be Confident In Who You Are:
Most of all, love yourself for who you are. We can all be confident in ourselves regardless of our looks, height, financial status or whatever. Give someone a compliment today. Here's a short story to illustrate my point: I was in the store the other night and a young teenage girl with a lot of acne was working behind the counter.
I could tell right away that she was miserable and she looked so unhappy. When she was ringing up my items she was trying so hard to hide her face with her hair. She was really trying to hide the acne on her face and she was completely self conscious. When she gave me my change, I said to her, "you have beautiful hair."
She then looked right in my eyes and said "thank you." She immediately gained enough confidence to change her whole stature. For that one second she was no longer self-conscious about her appearance. You see, it doesn't matter what other people see in you, what matters is what you see in you.
What I'm trying to say is that confidence is something we have inside all of us. It's the little angel in our heart that says we can do whatever we wish. It can either make us or breaks us. I still, to this day, have that statue of Jesus. It is now in my bedroom for my wife and me to share. That was my little angel that came to me in the darkest times, as that child worrying about his father's life.
I learned to trust in the goodness of God, and my life has never been the same since.