The confidence game is tough. Remember when you were first starting out in the job market. You had a great education, you were youthful and energetic and you were willing to do anything to prove yourself.
Then you started applying for jobs and they told you that you looked great, but come back when you had some experience and they would hire you. Confidence is like that. You have to believe in yourself and give yourself a chance first, before you know exactly how to do it.
The good news though is that confidence is like riding a bicycle. When you first start it looks impossible, but many bruised shins and knees later you master the technique, and once you start rolling it goes on almost by itself. You never have a problem riding a bike after that.
Once you start gaining confidence you’ll be surprised at how it easy it is to get moving and to keep it up.
So how can you master the confidence game? Here are a few tips that will get your wheels rolling.
Confidence is an Inside Job
There are many things outside of you over which you have little or no control. But you can deal with a lot of aspects of yourself, both inside and out. First of all, we all have images of ourselves, built up over a number of years from things others have said about us.
Our parents, friends, teachers, bosses and co-workers have told us things about us that we’ve taken to heart. Some of these are positive and should be nurtured and fostered. Others are negative and only serve to weaken our self-image and confidence.
If we want to start improving our confidence we have to shed some of these negative messages that have built up inside of us for many years and to replace them with the truth. The truth for most of us is that we have some weaknesses and we have some strengths, but none of us has all weaknesses. So why not start by saying to ourselves that nobody is perfect, and if we have faults we’re going to work on them.
Most importantly, we have strengths, assets and some things that we’re very good at. Make a list of these strengths and weaknesses and you will have a road map for building confidence.
Remember that even the greatest home run hitter in the history of baseball, Hank Aaron, had doubts. He once said “I never doubted my ability, but when you hear all your life you’re inferior, it makes you wonder.”
Look the Part
The greatest actors in movies and on television can act a part and make us believe that they are really back in the Wild West or out in space. That’s not easy to do. But what is easy is to start looking the part of being confident.
The next time you are around the most successful people in your workplace watch them as they go about their activities, especially when they know they are “in public”. They almost always adopt a positive, self-confident persona that makes other people believe they know what they are talking about or where they are going. Even when they don’t really feel it inside.
You don’t have to pretend, although you can if you need to, particularly at the beginning. You can, however, think positively about whatever you are doing before you do it so that you will feel self-confident when the time comes. You can also dress the part of a successful person, long before that success materializes.
Think again about those successful people at work. They take the time every day to look and dress smartly. They groom themselves meticulously with products from The Art of Shaving. They know that if they look the part, they are halfway home to success.
Remember “The Greatest”, Muhammad Ali, who once said “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.”
You Are Not Alone
Once you start believing, you are really motoring along the path to winning the confidence game, and there’s just one more major area to focus on. You need to look at your current environment at work and in your social sphere to see if you are getting what you need to maintain your self-confidence.
Think about confidence as a jug of water that you are constantly drinking from. Unless you replenish it, you will soon be thirsty. You can replenish it yourself all of the time but that’s a lot of work. That’s why you need people around you in your life, particularly at work, who will help you keep up your self-confidence.
Look at who you spend your time with at work and if you are not getting what you need in terms of support and encouragement right now, then see if you can’t get a coach or a mentor to help you. If you have co-workers who drain you or your self-confidence, then spend as little as time as possible with them, and find more positive people to hang around with.
The same applies to friends. If they are not helping you then find friends who will. Once you have this positive network around you it will be easy to stay confident and you will probably have enough to share back with your network.
Mary Kay Ash, the self-made cosmetics giant offered up this advice: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”