Why Swagger Matters, and How to Get it Back.

Back in the day in Western Australia. Got my swagger on!

Swagger. When you think of that word, what comes to mind?

Some dictionary definitions aren’t so flattering:

Oxford: a very confident and arrogant or self-important gait or manner.

Merriam-Webster: to conduct oneself in an arrogant or superciliously pompous manner.

With these definitions, who’d want swagger?

Let me offer you another definition: a feeling of confidence, expressed overtly. (thanks ref, link)

I reckon it’s this type of swagger that we need.

I’ll tell you why.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a dawning realisation. I’ve noticed that I’ve been second-guessing myself more than I’d like. My creativity has been increasingly harder to tap into. It’s felt more difficult to deal with the challenges that life has been throwing at me.

I reckon I’ve lost my swagger!

I shared my insight with two colleagues that I meet with every Friday (we do a weekly peer-coaching session. It’s an essential part of my week). One of them asked me “when was the last time you felt you had swagger in spades?” After a little reflection, I said “probably three years ago”.

Whoah. That stopped me in my tracks.

Upon reflection, the past three years have been massive for most of us, right? For me, I went through a separation, had two of my kids leave home for Uni, and like the rest of us, had to adjust to a Covid world. It’s been a massive transition. One that I reckon has taken its toll.

I’m not beating myself up. It’s healthy to name it. And now to reclaim it.

You might not see my staggering swagger. I’m still showing up. I consistently get great feedback from clients. I write and publish a blog and newsletter every week. I show up in service, every day.

Yet underneath it all there’s been a slightly invisible void that’s ended up with me feeling more tired and less creative than I’d like. 

I reckon if I filled that void the right type of stuff…

Swagger schwagger. Why should I care?

I work with leaders and change-makers of all types. From observing thousands of them, and from my own experience, what I know to be true is that when someone has swagger, it’s positively infectious. Swagger is attractive. Swagger shapes and influences. Swagger invites people to come on the journey with you. Remember, it’s not an ‘I’m better than you’ thing. It’s a feeling of confidence, expressed overtly. People love that.

What might happen if you got your swagger on?

Get your swagger on.

I’ll be the first to admit that, given what I’ve just shared, I’m probably not the guru on advice for this! But, like all of us, I’ve been here before and I know what has worked for me in the past. If you reckon your swagger needs a boost, here are a few tips:

  1. Know, and own, your superpowers

When you know and own what you’re awesome at, you can move mountains. When you get feedback from others on what you’re awesome at, and how you make a difference, it’s a powerful invitation (permission perhaps) to step up and claim what you are all about. Every couple of years, I do a feedback exercise that I call Superpowers. It’s time for me to do that again now. Maybe you too?

Here’s what I have on my wall in my home office to remind me of my superpowers. The word cloud is a result of feedback from the Superpowers activity, and the stickies are other pieces of feedback I’ve collected recently. I look at this every day.

  1. Connect with your Tight Five regularly

Your Tight Five are five people that you know have got your back, and you’ve got theirs. The two colleagues I mentioned earlier are part of my tight five. They’re people I can get real with. They lift me, challenge me and champion me. Do you know who your Tight Five are? Connect with them regularly. 

  1. Protect your boundaries

I’ve learned that when I clearly define and ruthlessly protect my boundaries, the payoff is huge. The sense of agency and choice I get when I honour what’s most important to me translates to a form of swagger that I can channel into creative work. My boundaries include time boundaries (how I spend my time), people boundaries (who I spend it with),  and energy boundaries (how I get and use my energy).

These three disciplines are foundational practices I teach in the Change Makers programme. I’ll be soon opening up applications for a new cohort kicking off in May 2024. If you want to get your swagger on and make change happen in your organisation or community, Change Makers could be for you. Stay tuned…

Swagger. You need it. We need it. Go get it.

For more like this, check out:

Do You Need Confidence, or Courage?

Your Superpowers 

Forget Time Management, Master These Disciplines Instead

Dig Deeper Newsletter

Sign up with your email to receive weekly leadership insights, tips, and inspiration from Digby.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.