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The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines confidence as:
1 a: a feeling or consciousness of one's powers or of reliance on one's circumstances <had perfect confidence in her ability to succeed> <met the risk with brash confidence> b: faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way <have confidence in a leader>2: the quality or state of being certain: certitude <they had every confidence of success>
Confidence is a mesmerizing quality. When we have it we don’t think about it. When we don’t have it we want it, and when we observe it we admire it. (To a point, anyway.)
True confidence is displayed in a way that begets trust in those that observe it. But some confidence (false) shows up as overplayed, overstated and down right arrogant. Most people have little trouble distinguishing between the two. But often times we wish we had confidence, genuine confidence so we could move forward and be les intimidated by those around us. The sad fact is that we begin to compensate, or even worse, we are taught to compensate by acting confident, instead of learning to be confident.
Here are some simple steps to increase your confidence in yourself, in a genuine way that will help you deal with issues in your life when confidence is at stake.
1. State Your Purpose. More easily said- what do you value? Find out what is really important to you. Make a list of what you want others to think about you. This isn’t an exercise to find out what you think impresses others, but rather to discover what is really important to you that you want others to understand and see in you. Simply make a list of the character qualities you want others to notice in you. In other words, when people talk about you behind your back, what do you want them to be saying?
2. Talk to Yourself. Train yourself to think concerning those values you have listed. Find motivational resources that will help you develop those qualities. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t- have a positive attitude about what you are becoming. Make your progress a matter of choice, not default. Take charge of your input. That is to say, make sure the things in your environment enhance you and don’t reduce you. Commit yourself to learning and growing. Don’t take it for granted but be intentional on what you are becoming. Be in control of your expectations and raise them.
Related: Improve Your Self-Talk
3. Be Nice. This may sound a little strange, but being good to those around you helps you feel better about yourself. When you hold the door open for someone, offer to carry heavy packages, help someone pick up things they have dropped, let a car go in front of you, give someone your place in line, drop extra change into a help bucket, make a donation to a charity… all these things make you feel better about yourself and increase your confidence. Be generously generous. Try this and see how it makes you feel. The next time you go through a restaurant drive through, buy the person behind you their meal. Next time you’re in line at your favorite coffee place, by someone else their coffee as well. When you go through an automatic car wash, pay for the next person in line. When you go through a toll way pay for the person behind you. If you have a “buy one get one free” coupon, find someone to receive the free one. Be nice and practice generosity- it will make you fell better about yourself and increase your confidence. One big thing to remember, expect nothing in return.
Related: Why You Need to Give Compliments
4. Don’t Just Do It, Do It Justice. Remember your mom saying, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” It’s true. Don’t just do it, which is merely getting it done because it is a responsibility, or you feel you ought to. But do it justice. Always make sure your work is marked with quality. Don’t do the best you can, increase your capabilities, work a little harder and do better than expected. Don’t go the extra mile, go two. Remember, to make an impression you have to exceed expectations. When this becomes your attitude, people will notice and your confidence in yourself and others confidence in you will increase.
5. Stay In Motion. I believe Sir Isaac Newton said something about an object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest. Keep moving forward. When you find that you confidence has increased, don’t stop- keep moving forward. It has far-reaching effects. If you get to the point where you think you have achieved confidence, then it won’t take long that resting in that your confidence will become an act, superficial and arrogant to those around you. If you keep growing, your confidence will be in yourself, not what others think. And, paradoxically, your confidence will be in helping others and making a difference to your community and those you come in contact with.
If you are a leader, or aspire to be one; maybe confidence is what is holding you back. Try these steps and see yourself grow, enjoy the journey and keep it up. Maybe you’re confident in some things, but have a lack in other areas. Try these things and you will become confident about yourself and not things. Even if public speaking (a regular on the top five things that people are afraid of) displays your confidencelessness, these things can help, because it builds you and affects every area of your life. That’s right, make these things a part of your everyday life and it will even help you public speaking.
For confidence to be authentic and appreciated it must come from within. It comes from a genuine, honest and authentic integrity.
Craig Wagganer is an instructor and personal coach for The Leaders Institute, Management and Supervisor Training. His classes focus on overcoming the fear of public speaking, building confident and autonomous leaders, and improving employee morale. He can be reached toll-free at 1-800-872-7830.